The World Health Organization has prioritized the aspect of dealing with social determinants of health as part of their objective in the coming years. They have recognized the social determinants of health as the economic and social conditions that influence the health of people and communities. These conditions are brought about by the amount of money people earn, the power they command and the resources they have. These conditions are also related to factors that consider the kind of jobs people do, the type of food they eat, their early childhood development, the education they obtain, their access to health services just to mention but a few. The determinants of health are referred to as the factors that contribute to a person’s current state of health. Some of the determinants recognized by scientists include: health behaviors such as alcohol use or use of drugs, smoking and unprotected sex; social environment and characteristics for instance income and gender; physical environment and total ecology; genes and biology such as sex and age and health services or medical care (Song et al, 74-77).
These factors influence the health status of the population in the United States. However, there are other factors that can be included in the list as they are equally related to the health system and affect population as well. These factors include: culture, early childhood development and the social status of the people. The World Health Organization has created a commission to help curb the effects of social determinants of health. The commission’s major goals are to improve the conditions of daily life among the people of the United States, to tackle the inequitable distribution of money resources and power and measure or evaluate the problem and formulate action as well as expand the knowledge base (Song et al, 79-81). They also aim at developing a workforce that will enlighten the public. Among the key social determinants of health, there are education and socioeconomic status. All these determinants have huge impacts on the health status of people in the United States. They have been seen to lead to disparity among people depending on the socioeconomic status. Others have been recorded to bring about separation in partial correlation.
In the modern world, education is a very vital aspect of the society. This is the same policy in the United States in that it provides the skills that enable the acquisition of economic, social and psychological resources. In most states in the U.S. educational level of the individual and the municipality or even city level has been shown to be associated with poor psychological health. Studies conducted indicated that literacy rates for women in urban parts of the United States were relatively higher than those of women in rural areas (Song et al, 87). This was the same case with men. This marked the disparity in education level as observed within cities by income. This is the same case for socioeconomic status. People in the urban parts of the U.S get better condition and access to medical services than those in rural places. The disparity comes in due to the issue of resources, money and power.
2. The US still has a relatively high infant mortality rate compared to other ‘advanced’ countries around the world---what are some of the social factors that might be linked to that?
Infant mortality rate refers to the death of an infant or a child who is less than one year old. Globally over 10 million infants and children die before they celebrate their first birthday. Researchers have conducted comparisons in the health status to formulate and guide the development of appropriate programs. Similarly, health practitioners have stated that infant mortality is brought about by factors such as diseases, dehydration, infections, drugs and alcohol malformation just to mention but a few. Other causes that can be related to infant mortality include: prenatal care, mother’s marital status, social and economic status, race and smoking, air pollution and environmental factors (Haines, 423).
The social factors that can be related to infant mortality include racism as it segregates the parents in areas that have poor development and minimum medical services. Another factor is stress brought about by racism or even socioeconomic status of the parents. These factors bring about harsh conditions for the survival of the infants. In the United States, researchers have shown that more African Americans are likely to be subjected to infant mortality than non-Hispanic whites. Over the years, certain subpopulations of infants in the United States stand higher risks for illnesses and death due to poverty and segregation to minority groups (Haines, 428). Socioeconomic status is the major issue here where mothers and infants of these vulnerable people suffer harsh conditions and stand higher risks than those in urban areas. In the United States these factors are higher than in other developing countries. This brings about higher instances of infant mortality rate.
3. Why is the life expectancy higher in some other countries?
Life expectancy refers to the expected numbers of years of life remaining at a given age. It is equivalent to the number of years a person born in a given country would live if the mortality rates at each age would remain constant in the future. It is considered the most important measure of health. Over the years, life expectancy has been increasing tremendously in the developing countries. This is due to the improvements in the healthcare in areas like vaccines, development of drug cocktails to treat diseases such as AIDS as well as positive behavior changes like reduction in smoking or drinking rates (Renton, et al. 540).
Comparing the life expectancy in other developing countries and the United States, the situation is totally different. This is due to the fact that the healthcare in the U.S is relatively low while the Americans pay more than in other countries. This largely affects those people who live in rural areas or rather areas that can be regarded as poor (Renton, et al. 554). This makes the life expectancy of such Americans shorter than in other countries. In addition to this, other developing countries have formulated ways to advance their resources in terms of inventing new drugs that uplift the economy. Levels of poverty, wealth distribution and income gaps have also been issues that affect the U.S that shorten their life expectancy as compared to other countries.
Haines, Michael R. "Inequality and infant and childhood mortality in the United States in the twentieth century." Explorations in Economic History. 48.3 (2011): 418-428. Web.
Renton A; Wall M; Lintott J,. "Economic growth and decline in mortality in developing countries: an analysis of the World Bank development datasets." Public Health [Public Health], 126.7 (2012): 551-560. Web.
Song R; Hall HI; Harrison KM; Sharpe TT; Lin LS; Dean HD,. "Identifying the impact of social determinants of health on disease rates using correlation analysis of area-based summary information." Public Health Reports 126.3 (2011): 70-80. Web.