Friday, February 10, 2006

What Determines Health?

What Determines Health?:
Doctors are happy to take the credit for the increasing life expectancy most citizens can expect today. However, the truth is that there's little that doctors have done to influence public health. The health of a country - and an individual - is influenced far more by their socio-economic status, than by the quality of medical care they receive. This is one of the reasons why the "AIDS epidemic" which was supposed to decimate the US petered out; and why AIDS continues to be such a big killer in Africa today !

The following story speaks to the complex set of factors or conditions that determine the level of health of every person.

'Why is Jason in the hospital?
Because he has a bad infection in his leg.
But why does he have an infection?
Because he has a cut on his leg and it got infected.
But why does he have a cut on his leg?
Because he was playing in the junk yard next to his apartment building and there was some sharp, jagged steel there that he fell on.
But why was he playing in a junk yard?
Because his neighbourhood is kind of run down. A lot of kids play there and there is no one to supervise them.
But why does he live in that neighbourhood?
Because his parents can't afford a nicer place to live.
But why can't his parents afford a nicer place to live?
Because his Dad is unemployed and his Mom is sick.
But why is his Dad unemployed?
Because he doesn't have much education and he can't find a job.
But why ...?'

The "key determinants of health" include:

1. Income and Social Status
2. Social Support Networks
3. Education and Literacy
4. Employment/Working Conditions
5. Social Environments
6. Physical Environments
7. Personal Health Practices and Coping Skills
8. Healthy Child Development
9. Biology and Genetic Endowment
10. Health Services
11. Gender
12. Culture"

Note that health ( medical care) services ranks tenth on this list !
This just means that while doctors can do little to improve your health, they can do a lot to damage it !

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