Poverty is a condition in which a community or an individual lacks financial resources and the essentials that are crucial to enjoy a standard of life that is minimum and well being which is considered as acceptable in a society. Poverty status in many countries is actually assigned to the people who fail to meet a given threshold level that is set by health and human services department in that particular country. In less developed countries especially those that are found in Africa, poverty is identified as a state symbol. Poverty is actually not an economic construct but it is regarded as a human condition.
Therefore, poverty is a situation where a person fails to be in a position to earn income which is sufficient to purchase his or her bare means of survival. A person is said to be poor if he or she does not possess the command over life basic needs like drinking water, clothing, shelter, and food on material level. On the other hand, a person is said to be poor given that he or she is deprived of the basic social needs like education and health (Brenton 45). Thus, health is used as a measure of poverty where those who are poor do not have the ability to access good health.
Less money means that there is less nutritious food. The less money is an indication of the presence of poverty hence a person who has less money will not be in a position to purchase nutritious food that is crucial for good health. Poverty is an extremely powerful force which can actually catapult an individual into a long cycle of health problems. Breaking this cycle is in fact a huge task which can only be achieved with steps like educating the members of the public about poverty effects on the health. Poverty affects the mental health of an individual drastically. It is evident that those adults who live in poverty are 4 times most likely to experience the psychological problems than those who get income that is 2 times greater than poverty level.
Living in poverty seriously influences mental health and stress levels. Stressors include illnesses, uncontrollable situations, social isolation, work overload, and lack of sleep. When an individual experiences these mentioned stressors over a long period like living in poverty, it can actually be incredibly harmful since it increases the likelihood of an individual developing a disease, getting a heart attack, or being obese (Dare26).
Poverty has a persistent impact on children health. Children who come from poor family backgrounds are more likely to get diseases. When these children become ill, due to the conditions that their families find themselves in, they get sicker and eventually die at rates which are higher than those children who come from richer families. Some studies have shown that the low parental social class is closely associated with the shorter adult stature in the off springs. Therefore, the improvements in the environmental and social factors like education and housing might essentially bring down the social class adverse impact on height although they might not eradicate it. Some studies have been carried out to examine the relationship that exists between the dental caries and family income and found that those children who come from low income families have higher rates of dental disease, unmet dental need higher percentages, and lower dental services utilization rates.
The people with low income predominantly those who live in the poverty normally face various challenges when maintaining their health. Thus, these individuals are more likely to become ill than those who earn higher incomes. In addition, they are prone to die at tender ages. Furthermore, poor people are more likely to dwell in the poor environmental situations that are characterized by health care resources that are limited. The health care resources are those factors which can essentially compromise the health status and the access to care (Carroll 47). The public programs being offered play a crucial role in aiding to reduce the disparities in health by the income through the support of health initiatives that are targeted at the people whose income is low. As a result of this, a safety health net is maintained together with the social services of the people who are poor.
Poverty forces the individuals to dwell in environments which make them sick and as a result of this it creates ill health. These environments are characterized by absence of adequate sanitation, clean water, and decent shelter. Poverty in addition creates hunger that in turn leaves individuals vulnerable to many diseases. It denies individuals access to health services that are reliable and medicines that are affordable, and causes the younger ones to miss various vaccinations that are aimed at preventing the occurrence of different diseases like polio, measles, and chicken pox among others. Furthermore, poverty leads to illiteracy meaning that individuals are left poorly informed about the various health risks (Lineberry 38). Moreover, poverty phenomenon forces people to do dangerous jobs that harm their personal health.
Poverty is a universal health issue which affects millions of poor people across the world. Health statistics from different countries such as the developing countries, paint a very gloomy picture of the health status. However, even in the developed nations such as the United States, poverty continues to be a major road block to health.
Health problems are very serious in third world nations than in the developed countries. This is clearly shown in the mortality rates and life expectancy of these countries. Countries with sound economies have high life expectancy and low mortality rates than countries with poor economies. One chief consideration is diet and access to food. Many poor families do not consider taking balanced diets. In most poor nations; food is food as long as it fills the belly. Citizens from poor background s do not quite understand the importance of taking a balanced diet. For example the original North American food has shifted to foods which are highly rich in fats. This has largely contributed to problems such as heart diseases, cancer as well as obesity. In developing countries food might be less processed but the supply may be short due to seasonal variations. Dietary restrictions and poor dietary advices may eliminate could be the vital nutrient in the diet.
Poverty exposes poor people to conditions which put them at the greatest risk of contacting a disease. Infections become much unbridled among the poorly nourished people. Exposure to severe weather conditions, overcrowding in shelters, poor housing, ignorance and lack of immunization plays a major role (Holosko 59). Exposure to extremely cold conditions leads to diseases such as pneumonia. Overcrowding and congestion leads to quick transmission of diseases such as Tuberculosis and cholera. Water that is used by a big majority of poor households is not clean and safe for drinking. This could be another source of infections.
Homelessness is another cause of health problems. Raising children in the streets forecasts lifelong health problems and risks to addiction, violence or even sexual exploitation.HIV/AIDS prevalence rates are very high in under developed countries. Poor women engage in commercial sex so as to get money to maintain their families. Poor women can only get good shelter and food through selling sex. Commercial sex or prostitution brings these women the biggest risk of contracting HIV/AIDS (Perales104). The risk of suffering from depression is quite high with people who earn low income. Depression can lead to heart disease during old age. The poor do not have access to education. Low education levels also contribute a lot towards health problems .The low income earners form the biggest population of people who work under hazardous conditions; many poor people work under poor conditions since they don’t have a choice. This exposes them to various risks including injuries .For example ,people who work in horticultural plantations are exposed to various insecticides and chemicals which may be a future health hazard. They are also exposed to very cold conditions in the cold rooms during parking. This brings them to a very big risk of developing respiratory problems at old age. The same case applies to people who work in mines. They are exposed to dust which may become a major health problem in future.
Quality education enables individuals to learn the importance of proper nutrition as well as the right hygiene. In most African countries where literacy levels are low, fat children are considered to be the healthiest .However; this could not be the case since the child might be suffering from obesity. Unemployment and financial constraints bar many people from accessing proper medical care. Many poor people opt for short term solutions to diseases since they are usually cheaper. With the current world economic status, prices of all commodities and services have gone up including insurance cover. The high cost of insurance cover has locked many poor people from accessing quality and affordable medical care.
Immunization is usually inadequate for poor people. In most countries money meant for immunizations ends up in the pockets of a few.
Poverty and health are not problems of the poor countries only. Even the rich countries such as the United States of America also face this challenge. Despite the economic might of the United States, there is a very big population which still lives below the federal poverty line.
The biggest asset that a country can have is healthy citizens. Governments of various nations from all throughout the world should strive to provide cheap and quality health care to their citizens in order to reduce human suffering and misery. The issue of poverty and health should not only be addressed by government agencies but also private organizations such as churches and nongovernmental organizations. The best way to deal with the health issue is through tackling the problem of poverty. Creation of awareness and education will also be very beneficial. The United States of America is currently implementing the Medicaid program which aims at providing every citizen with affordable and quality health care.
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