Determinants of Health


Determinants of Health

Health is multi-factorial. The factors which influence health are both within the individual and externally in the society in which he or she lives. It is a truism to say that man is and to what disease he may fall victim depends on combination of two sets of factors to which he is exposed. These factors interact and these interactions may be health promoting or deleterious. Thus conceptually, health of individuals and the whole communities may be considered to be a result of many interactions. Such determinants of health include;

 A.    Biological Determinants

The physical and mental traits of every human being are to some extent determined by the nature of his genes at the moment of conception. The genetic makeup is unique in that it cannot be altered after conception. A number of disease are known to be of genetic origin e.g chromosomal anomalies, errors of metabolism, mental retardation, some types diabetes etc. the state of health therefore depend partly on the genetic constitution of a man.

B.    Behavioral and Socio-Economic Conditions

The term ‘lifestyle’ is rather a diffuse concept often used to denote ‘the way people live’, reflecting a whole range of social values, attitudes and activities. It is composed of cultural and behavioral patterns and lifelong personal habits example smoking, alcoholism that had developed during processes of socialization.

Lifestyles are learnt through social interactions with parents peer groups, friends and siblings and through school and mass media. Health requires the promotion of healthy lifestyle. It should be noted that not all lifestyles are harmful as there are many that can actually promote health. Examples include adequate nutrition, enough sleep, sufficient physical activity etc.

 D.    Environment

Environment is classified as internal and external. The internal environment of man is made up of every component part, every tissue, organ and system and their harmonious functioning within the system. While the external environment or macro-environment consists of those things to which man is exposed after conception. It can be divided into physical, biological and psychological components, any or all of which can after the health of man and his susceptibility to illness. It is an established fact that the environment has a direct impact on the physical, mental and social well-being of those living in it. Environmental factors range from housing, water supply, psychological stress and family structure through social and economic support system to the organization of health and social welfare service in the community. If the environment is favorable to the individual he can make full use of the physical and mental capabilities.

D.    Socio-Economic Conditions

Socio-economic conditions influence human health. For most people health is determined primarily by their socio-economic development e.g per capita, GNP, education, nutrition, employment (occupation), housing, the political system of the country etc.

E.    Health Service

The purpose of health service is to improve the health status of the population, for instance, immunization services to children can influence the incidence/prevalence of particular diseases. Provision of safe water can prevent mortality and morbidity from water-borne diseases. The care given to pregnant women and children would contribute to the reduction of material and child morbidity and mortality. To be effective, the health services must reach the social periphery, equitably distributed, accessible at a cost the country and community can afford and socially acceptable.

F.    Aging of the population

By the year 2020, the world will have more than one billion people aged 60 and over, and more than two-thirds of them living in developing countries. Although the elderly in many countries enjoy better health than before, a major concern of rapid population aging is the increase prevalence of chronic diseases and disabilities.

G.    Gender

1990s have witnessed an increased concentration of Women’s Health issues. In 1993, the Global Commission on Women’s Health was established.  The commission drew up an agenda for action on women’s health concerning nutrition, reproductive health, the health consequences of violence, aging, lifestyle-related conditions and the occupation environment.

H.   Other Factors

The development of technologies has offered tremendous opportunities in proving an easy and instant access to medical information once difficult to retrieve.

Also reading on: <<< Concept of Health and Its Dimensions >>>

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