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Nature of Health and Illness: Social Determinants and Globalization Term Paper

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The concept of health and its implications has undergone a great revolution. What used to be described as a health problem in the days gone has changed all of a sudden. The implication of the word health has therefore evolved over time. Due to a variety of factors, the nature of health problems that plague modern day societies have become more of a chronic case as compared to the acute cases of the past. Diseases caused by psychological as well as environmental factors have increased with great intensity. Therefore to say that someone is sick does not necessarily imply the scientific nature of his body. Rather the state of the person being vis-à-vis the environment in which he lives in also carries weight. The documentary on the factors that determine health provides more details oh the entire concept of health. Other publications have also been cited in the discussion of health and its determinants.

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Social Determinants of Health

The concept of health is susceptible to the influence of a variety of social and cultural factors. This trend has increasingly become popular with the development and evolution of the entire concept. (Marmot, M & Wilkinson, R, 2003)

Therefore in today’s world the health of an individual is influenced by quite a number of factors of social nature they include:

Social status: People at the lower stratum of the social class have more risk of diseases than those at the higher level. In fact the documentary shows that people in lower classes may succumb to death earlier than the rest. Social class also involves the economic categorization of society. People who are economically sound have a lesser risk of disease and death as compared to he poorer category.

Race: African Americans fair worse compared to their white counterparts. in fact all the colored races have more risk of illness and early demise than the white population.

Work stress: Work related stress contributes to many sicknesses as well as deaths. People who have very stressful work environment have a higher risk of disease, sicknesses and early demise as compared to the rest. The demands of work puts a lot of stress on people’s life and its impacts can be fatal for the people concerned.

Chronic stress: Chronic stress is worse than any other factor of the above mentioned. It is a major contributor to health problems in society. Chronic stress is like a disease on its own. People with this kind of condition are at a higher risk of health and demise.

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Neighborhood: A persons neighboring environment has a lot of implication on his health. The environment can either ensure good health of bad health depending on its nature. A good neighborhood promotes good relations with others thereby guaranteeing health.

Control of destiny: Human beings have an in built craving of having control over their choices and life in general. A sense of controlling destiny is associated with being aware of oneself and having a sense of positivism in ones life. Humans who fell in control of their lives have a lower risk of disease and early demise. Those who fell not in control of their lives are susceptible to the many perils of life thus contracting disease and succumbing to it early (Raphael, D, 2004).

Changing Nature of Health and Illness

There has been a drastic change in the nature of diseases more so in developed countries. Unlike the past where health problems were caused by disease agents found in the environment which affected all today’s health scenario favors some and not others. Cholera influenza among other disease was the major illnesses of those days. These affected all people with the same intensity. The risk of disease and death therefore was equally shared by all without preference. Chronic conditions have replaced acute health problems thanks to the good standards of life. The risk of today lies with heath risks associated with the psychological state of mind, environment, social status, class, economic wellbeing among others. Hypertension, diabetes and rheumatism are perfect examples of today’s health risks. Health risks of today are therefore not judged by their direct link to death but by how they affect the quality of life (World Health Organization, 2008).

Documentary Report

The documentary series on health was broadcast so as to raise and address the skyrocketing socioeconomic and racial inequalities as far as health is concerned. The four hour program navigates through the entire country exposing amazing findings that health goes beyond habits, genes and healthcare. It highlights the wide scope of health as opposed to the limited perspective of many. The aspects of social circumstances of birth, together with environments of work and their role in our physical health are also highlighted.

An ascending and descending pattern has been revealed in the research. It categorizes health risks according to economic status. Poorer people are more affected and victimized with sicknesses and demise as compared to their richer counterparts. At this point the relationship between health and economic status is exposed. According to analysis Americans of poor status die six years before their rich counterparts. The Latino immigrants for instance are shown to enjoy good health at inception though poorer. However as they continue with their stay their status of healthy deteriorates. The race equation dominates the documentary with the African Americans having worst health status as compared to whites. Other colored people consequently fair no better (Daniels, N, 2008).

Assigned Readings and Analysis
Globalization: health risks and benefits

The trend of globalization has led to great implications on the health of humanity in general. This has led to the depletion of the ozone layer thus global warming. The results have been drastic consequences on the health due to a hazardous environment. Skin cancer rates have skyrocketed due to the increased exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Climate change has therefore hit the headlines with major world organizations like the UN discussing the menace. The sea levels have consequently risen in the recent past due to increased temperatures. The rise in temperatures has however been attributed to human activities. Deforestation and the burning of fossil fuel have led to the increase of temperature. Global warming has a lot of implications on human health. Global warming has a hand in the increased number of infectious diseases, food shortages among other factors which directly affect health. An increase in the number of weather traumas like hurricanes, floods, and droughts all originate from global warming (Gibson, J, 2009).

Weather circumstances associated with global warming may cause loss of hygiene facilities leading to disease and loss of life. In fact studies have indicated a direct link between climate and diseases. Food production which to a great extent determines health is always at risk to extreme conditions. This can lead to malnutrition and poor body defense to diseases. The risk of high temperatures on human health is well documented; heat waves are major causes of disease and death. In order to address the global warming, discussions have been held so as to share information on how to handle the depletion of the ozone layer (Queensland, 2003).

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Social determinants of health have a lot of implications on the entire concept of health. This is the case due to the changing dynamics of health and the factors that influence it. Discussed above are the various factors from the social section that command a lot of influence on health. Right from social status, class, race, environment and stress these factors have a lot of implications on human health in general. The documentary on health provides more proof that social elements have a lot of influence on health. Different publications referred to indicate that due to the development and improvement made through the agrarian and industrial revolutions, the concept of health has undergone radical changes. The very definition of health has changed as well as the factors that influence it. This has led to the larger role played by social factors in determining health. It can thus be said in conclusion that social factors have a great implication on health in general.


Daniels, N. (2008). Just health: meeting health needs fairly. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gibson, J. (2009). Intellectual property, medicine and health: current debates. Chesterfield: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

Marmot, M. and Wilkinson, R. (2003). Social determinants of health: the solid facts. New York: World Health Organization.

Queensland. (2003). Social determinants of health: support package for public health services. Queensland: Queensland Health.

Raphael, D. (2004). Social determinants of health: Canadian perspectives. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press.

World Health Organization. (2008). Social Determinants of Health. NewYork: World Health Organization.

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