Determinants of Health

Determinants of Health

Several factors or issues combine together to impact on the health of communities, individuals and the globe at large. Circumstances and environment determine the health of the people or a nation. According to Bui & Markle (2007) to a greater extent, certain factors such as the state of the physical environment where people live, genetics, education level, income, peopleĀ’s relationship with family, and friends all have a significant effect on health. The more considered factors like use and access to health services have little impact on health. The discussion will put more emphasizes on determinants of health which include the social/economic factors, physical/ environmental issues and characteristics/ behaviour of the individual and how such factors affect health at local, national and global level.
2.0 Discussion
2.1 Socio-economic factors
Socio-economic determinants of health are situations or conditions in which a person is born, live, grow, age and work including social or health systems. Such circumstances are tailored by the distribution of resources, power, and money at local, national and global levels, which themselves are precipitated by policy choices. Martin, (2007) argues that socio-economic determinants of health accounts for the health inequalities, unavoidable and unfair disparities in health status observed between and within nations. Such inequalities affect the global distribution of food, medical care, medical experts, housing conditions, environmental vulnerability, cultural issues and norms and how they increase an individualĀ’s vulnerability to ill health. They also cause differential rate in mortality rate, morbidity rates, and life expectancy of people within and between nations.
Similarly, the global context determines how communities prosper through its effects on domestic norms, policies, and international relations. Such factors in turn shape how the society, at local and national level, organizes and structure its affairs, resulting to forms of social ranks and hierarchy (Disease Control Priorities Project, n.da). The position of an individual in the social hierarchy influences the conditions, in which they live, grow, work, age, and learn. It also affects their susceptibility to ill health and the impacts of ill health.
In response to the increasing concern about the widening and persisting health inequalities between nations, WHO, in 2005 established a commission on Social determinants of health to give advice on how to bridge the gap between nations. The main objective of the commission was to improve the living conditions, promote equitable distribution of power, resources and money and measure and internalize the problem and access the effects of the action. The Commission also emphasized on the Ā’cause of the causesĀ’ Ā– the social and economic factors which affect how people age, grow and live. The underlying determinants of health inequities are intertwined and thus, they must be addressed through comprehensive and integrated policies, responsive to the context of each region and country.
Global Health inequalities between nations have brought together nations in discussions with the aim of improving health equity, through addressing the socio-economic determinants of health. For example, WHO joins forces with a wide range of networks and organizations globally that are devoted to this agenda. For instance, the Commission of social determinant of health was a significant global process, bringing together many of practitioners and researchers from research institutions and universities, government ministries, and civil society and international and organizations.
2.2 Physical/ environmental issues
Environmental disasters accounts for approximately a quarter of the total disease burden globally and more than one-third of the burden among children. The dominating diseases are like lower respiratory infections, diarrhea, malaria, and different forms of unintentional injuries. The burden of disease is much greater in the third world, although in some cases of particular non-communicable diseases, like cancers and cardiovascular diseases; the per capita burden of disease is higher in developed nations (Disease Control Priorities Project, n.db). Health effects of environmental hazards amount for more than 80 diseases and forms of injury. Well-targeted/ planned interventions can control a number of this environmental risk. Globally, approximately 13 million deaths could be controlled yearly by creating healthier environments.
Air pollution poses a significant health threat globally for example, pneumonia, and chronic respiratory diseases among children and adult respectively. Yearly, natural calamities such as droughts, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, heat waves, wildfires, tsunamis, floods and landslides kill approximately 90 000 people and affect around160 million people globally. Calamities have a fatal immediate impact on peoplesĀ’ lives and result in the destruction of the biological, social and physical environment of the people affected, thus causing longer-term effect on the well-being, survival, and health of victims (Bui & Markle 2007).
Disease and health burden from disease outbreaks, disasters, and emergencies linked to environmental risk causes can be significantly minimized by effective preparedness, response, and prevention capacities. WHO seeks to strengthen the countriesĀ’ capacity particularly third world countries and those undergoing economic transition, to prevent environmental health problems in emergencies and support them during emergencies if need be.
2.3 Characteristic/ behaviour of individuals
The context of human lives affects their health status, and so crediting people for good health or blaming them for poor health is inappropriate. People beliefs, cultural norms, values, institutions, and morals significantly influence their definition of health and health seeking behavior (Disease Control Priorities Project, n.dc). People do not have a directly control over many of the health determinants factors. The determinants that make people healthy or unhealthy include factors such as higher income and social status which are linked to better health, balanced diet, proper housing condition, adequate resources to seek medical care and access to health services. The wider the gap between the poorest and richest people, the wider is the disparity in health. People with low education levels are linked with, more stress, poor accessibility to health services, low self-confidence, and hence poor health. Employed people or working class are healthier, especially those with more control over their working conditions than unemployed people.
Social support networks from communities, friends, and families are linked to better health. Genetics of a person like genetic inheritance plays a leading role in determining healthiness, lifespan, and the possibility of developing certain illnesses. Finally, individualĀ’s coping skills and behaviour such as keeping active, balanced eating, drinking, smoking, and how he/she deal with lifeĀ’s challenges and stresses all affect health. Ones access and use of health services to treat and prevent disease influences health and so do gender. Women and men suffer from different kinds of diseases at different ages; also their gender differences influence their access to health facilities and health seeking behaviour (Martin, 2007).
3.0 Summary of key points
Health determines an individualĀ’s state of mental, social, and physical. Currently the issue of health has attracted global attention, and the efforts and support contributed by world governments and leaders towards the attainment of quality health for all, cannot be overlooked. This is because better healthiness makes a crucial contribution to economic prosperity, as healthy citizens are more productive, save more and live longer.
4.0 Recommendation
Economic sectors like housing, agriculture, and transport, have an enormous effect on health. For example, transport is a crucial factor in air pollution, noise, and traffic injuries, but Ā“healthy/better transport policiesĀ” can significantly minimized these risks and improve cycling and walking. In agriculture, pesticides and fertilizers may precipitate crop yields. Better and wise chemical use is paramount to protect consumers and farm workers from excessive exposure to chemicals (World Health Organization, n.d). Creation of healthy and disease free environment through environmental conservation measures is paramount.
There is need for the formation of comprehensive and integrated policies that are responsive to the context of each region and country to address global health inequalities, (Ruggeri, 2004). There is need for promotion of education for all, creation of employment opportunities, health services, as well as accessibility to health care services to all citizens irrespective of gender, sex, and race around the globe to help eradicate poverty, promote development and healthy community.

5.0 References
Bui, T. D. & Markle, W. H. (2007). Global health: past, present and future. In Markle, W. H., Fisher, M., & Smego, R. A. (Eds), Understanding global health (pp. 19-36). The McGraw-Hill, Columbus, OH. Retrieved from: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/47566859/Understanding%20Global%20Health%20Chapter%202.pdf on 01-17-2012
Disease Control Priorities Project, n.da. Ā“Priorities in Health.Ā” Retrieved on 17th Jan. 2012, from: http://www.dcp2.org/pubs/PIH
Disease Control Priorities Project, n.db. Ā“Global Burden of Disease.Ā” Retrieved on 17th Jan. 2012, from: http://www.dcp2.org/pubs/GBD
Disease Control Priorities Project, n.dc. Ā“Disease Control Priorities.Ā” Retrieved on 17th Jan. 2012, from: http://www.dcp2.org/pubs/PIH
Martin, C. (2007). Global health: past, present and future. In Markle, W. H., Fisher, M., & Smego, R. A. (Eds), Understanding global health (pp. 37-60). The McGraw-Hill, Columbus, OH. Retrieved from: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/47566859/Understanding%20Global%20Health%20Chapter%203.pdf on 01-17-2012.
World Health Organization. Ā“10 facts on the global burden of disease.Ā” Retrieved on 17th Jan. 2012, from: http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/global_burden/facts/en/index.html

 

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