How Social Background Affects Population Health

Aaminah Mohammad, Contributor

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Have you ever wondered how the world we live in is able to maintan population health? As many of you know, in underdeveloped countries and in the past, it was very common for a person to get infected wth an infectious disease. This could have been due to many factors including the fact that many people lived in unsanitary conditions, drinking contaminated water and eating contaminated food, while also  transmitting the disease to others in the population. As more and more people got infected and started infecting others the amount of people with the disease kept increasng. Because there was no way of preventing and maintaining this, the pathogen would continuously be spreading and sometimes resulting in epidemics and pandemics killng thousands and sometmes millons or billions of people. Now thanks to population health, when an outbreak occurs, public health officials are able to trace the source of an outbreak, as well as prevent and contain it from infecting others. However preventing a disease from spreading to others is public health, not population health.  Population health has been defined in a very broad way .

According to an article in the American Journal of Public health, population health has been defined as, “the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group”.

It is an entirely different entity, but is often confused with public health, health promotion and social epidemiology. The focus in Population Health is on trying to understand the determinants of health of populations. The ultimate goal of a population health approach is to maintain and improve the overall health of the entire population, as well as to decrease inequalities in health between different groups of populations. One of its guiding principles is an increased focus on health outcomes, and comparing the change in outcomes attributable to the different prevention programs conducted by the population health officials.

One thing which most people want is to have a longer life. One way to estimate your life expectancy is to look at the average life expectancy of people who are related to you by race, gender or ethnicity. By looking at the gathered data of people simialr to, you are also able to be familiar with the disease you are most susceptible to and how healthy a person is. A person who tends to live longer is usually more healthy compared to others. For example, people that belong to the American or European race tend to live longer than people that belong to the African American race. Also infants belonging to the African American race are twice as likely to die than infants who belong to the European or American race. Why do you think this is true? It is true that infants born into the African American family are usually part of low income families. How does that affect the health of an individual? Studies have drawn a connection between amount of money earned and number of cases of illnesses drawing a conclusion that one is a contributing factor of the other. The reason for this is that low income families don’t have easy access to any kind of health care as it is expensive and not affordable by poor families. Not only that but, lower incomed families live in underdeveloped neighbourhoods where adults, children, and infants are exposed to many toxic chemicals in the heavily polluted areas surrounding their neighbourhead daily. This makes them more susceptible to specific diseases such as asthma. Another factor leading to more deaths in low income families is due to the criminal or gang activity happening within each neighbourhood. This makes some people the main targets for homocides resulting in deaths of many innocent people. The mortality rate of specific group or population determines the rate or percentage of death of a specific group of people. Due to racial discrimination, African Americans have been targeted for homocide over the past few years and are usually are part of  low income family making them susceptible to more diseases increasing the mortality rate. Although the average life expectancy has increased over the past few  years, racial discrimintation remains a leading cause and also a reasonable explanation to why Europeans and other white people have a greater life expectancy. Racism is still a thing today and remember to stand up against it as it’s not just unfair but is also a major cause for death in some people with the same ethnicity.


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