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Health and Health Disparities: Various Social Determinants and Its Implications

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Health should have no disparities or inequalities. Every individual should have undivided access to healthcare. Read this article to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Basti Bharatesh Devendra

Published At March 14, 2023
Reviewed AtMarch 14, 2023

Introduction:

Health is a priority topic in every individual's life. Every person wants to be healthy, and they deserve to be healthy. With the modern-day revolution in food and technology, a healthy diet, healthy physical activities, adopting a healthy lifestyle, and many such changes are seen revolving around an individual's health. Health is defined as not just the absence of disease but the complete well-being of an individual's physical, mental, and emotional state.

Good health is the key to human happiness. It contributes significantly to the well-being of the individual. A healthy lifestyle, a balanced and healthy diet, a good environment, and better living conditions are crucial for a healthy life cycle, which is essential for an individual's personal, professional, and economic progress. Furthermore, a healthy population is more productive and is vital for a country's advancement and evolution.

What Does Health for All Signify?

The concept of health for all signified equality in health and was popularized in the early 1970s. It emphasizes that every individual should be given an opportunity to benefit from good health and well-being. Irrespective of illness, caste or creed, or socioeconomic status, health and healthcare services should be brought within reach of every individual in the nation. Every person should have access to primary healthcare facilities. This global health for all policy would help an individual's progress and see a drastic community development. However, with modern medicine and advanced diagnostic and therapeutic technologies that promise length and quality of life, various countervailing forces prevent access to primary health. These are known as determinants of health. There are various determinants of health, such as social, cultural, economic, biological, environmental, and behavioral. These are factors or conditions that prevent individuals from getting essential healthcare services, thus reflecting the health status of the population.

What Are the Social Determinants of Health?

Social determinants of health are certain socioeconomic factors that influence the health and well-being of individuals. They reflect the environment in which an individual dwells, works, and grows. These conditions play a very important role in shaping an individual's health and contribute towards the betterment of the community. The entire population must have easy access to health care, suitable housing, a better work environment, nutritious food, and clean drinking water. These would ensure health equity and prosperous economic growth of the community.

What Are the Various Types of Social Determinants?

Social determinants can be categorized into five broad categories. They are mentioned below:

1. Healthcare:

This category includes access to healthcare services by an individual. The various factors are:

  • Access to Primary Healthcare: Many individuals still do not have access to primary or essential healthcare services, particularly in rural areas. It includes a lack of health professionals in their locality, financial deprivation, lack of transport to reach the facility or lack of health education. It also could be due to a lack of health insurance.

  • Health Insurance Coverage: Individuals are yet to understand the importance of health insurance and the ways to obtain it. Health insurance plays a crucial role in easing access to primary health care despite the illness or cost affecting it. Every individual should ensure to protect their family with a basic insurance plan. The government can bring in subsidized plans for the essential illness that can help rural communities obtain them. Dental insurance is also vital and should be emphasized as an essential public health service policy.

  • Health Literacy: Literacy is the key to getting essential health care services. Every individual should understand the importance of health education, the need for diagnostic tests, and timely treatment. They should also be educated regarding the consequences of delayed treatment. People should be familiarized with ways to access healthcare services considering the era of digitalization; they can obtain even remote checkups.

Ways to Improve Access to Health Care:

  • Improve health education in schools, workplaces, and living communities.

  • Offer advice on health insurance plans and their importance.

  • Offer rural health screenings and other tests.

  • Facilitate better transport.

  • Remote consultations via telemedicine can be more beneficial.

2. Economic Stability:

Individuals' finances are significantly linked to better health as they are known to be on a better edge in receiving health care facilities. In addition, economic stability offers better housing, a good and choosiest lifestyle, and quality medical care, particularly while managing chronic illness or emergencies. Conversely, factors such as poverty, unemployment, food, and housing insecurity result in economic instability that hinders good quality healthcare.

Ways to Improve Economic Stability:

  • Improve education and introduce policies that would ensure every child receives a basic education.

  • Organizations could take up various employment programs.

  • Career counseling could make a big difference in tackling unemployment.

  • Good housing and food can also help improve economic stability.

3. Education:

Literacy and healthcare go hand in hand. Studies have shown that a good education is key to employment, economic stability, and good health. Conversely, children from low-income households or with poor educational backgrounds face certain socioeconomic discrimination, struggle economically, and are more likely to experience health conditions.

Ways to Improve Access to Quality Education:

Educational policies and programs should be implemented to enable those living in low-income communities to receive basic education. For example, digitalization and modern technologies could deliver school at home.

4. Social and Community Life:

This relates an individual's health to how he works, lives, plays, and learns. Factors such as civic participation, racial or other discrimination, incarcerations, and work environment play an essential role in assessing healthcare quality. For example, discrimination and bullying in the workplace can negatively impact an individual's mental and physical health. High incarceration rates can also affect the child's development. A healthy community environment is crucial to an individual's physical and mental well-being.

Ways to Improve Community Life:

  • Building a healthy and positive work environment.

  • Developing various social campaigns.

  • Working on community support programs can significantly reduce anxiety and build better relationships.

5. Neighborhood:

An individual's housing and environment also play an essential role in determining an individual's health. Factors such as quality of housing, transportation, access to good food and clean water, clean environment, rates of crime, and violence influence an individual's health.

Ways to Improve Living Conditions:

  • Government should ensure to provide healthy food and clean drinking water.

  • Low-income households should be provided with the basic necessities of living.

  • Reduce environmental pollution.

Conclusion:

It is imminent to fight health disparities and other detrimental health factors to be healthier and promote economic development. A healthy mind and body are the key to the community's economic, social, and cultural development. Health should be accessible to all. There should be no barriers to individuals receiving basic and primary healthcare. Government and local civic bodies should ensure that socioeconomic determinants are curbed and that every individual has the right to a healthy life.

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Dr. Basti Bharatesh Devendra
Dr. Basti Bharatesh Devendra

Dermatology

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community-oriented primary carehealth disparities
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