Health's Social Determinants

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Citizens' health is a critical component of economic growth, and it is the primary reason why most countries devote significant resources to the health sector. Specifically, when most people are healthy, they are more likely to participate in daily economic activities, contributing to a country's long-term economic growth. However, when most people are ill, they spend a significant amount of time seeking quality health care, whether in hospital beds or at home. Despite the fact that most countries are committed to increasing access to and affordability of high-quality health care for all, these goals have not been met, owing to a variety of social determinants of health, including but not limited to the level of income, education, cultural believes, social exclusion, housing, food security and others (Raphael, 2016). This paper pays high attention to the analysis of how educational levels affect the health of individuals and ways in which the federal government can enhance the levels of education of the Americans.

Levels of Education and Health

The health of individuals is greatly influenced by their level of education. Precisely, most individuals who are educated tend to be sensitive on issues concerning their health, to such an extent that they are the guardians of their health. According to a research study that was conducted by the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) concerning the relationship between the level of education and health, it’s established that better educated individuals are less likely to die from the most common chronic and acute illnesses, less likely to be diagnosed with various chronic and acute communicable and non-communicable diseases, and less likely to report depression and anxiety disorders (Cutler, 2007). In addition, the study also identified that the relationship between education and health varies with the health condition. For example, the study revealed that more education reduces the risk of suffering from diabetes by 1.3 percent points and 2.2 percentage rate for heart disease (Cutler, 2007). Moreover, additional four years of education result to increased level of embracing healthy behaviors, such as disease screening and diet regulation, reduction of the probability of being in poor or fair health (by 6 percentage) and reduced lost days of work due to illness by nearly 2 to 3 days every year (Cutler, 2007).

Moreover, the report that was released by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council in 2013 established that the US adults who are at the age of 25 years and don’t have a high school diploma have a high risk of dying 9 years sooner compared to those who have a college degree or diploma (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2015). In addition, the study identified that in 2011, the prevalence of individuals who had no high school diploma and were suffering from diabetes was about 15%, and this was 8% higher compared to those had college degrees. The difference between adults who have a college diploma or degree and those without in references to the high rates of diabetes is due to the fact that those with a college diploma are concerned with the aspect of monitoring their health in terms of observing the risks that increase the chances of developing diabetes, such as marinating a healthy body weight, having regular body exercises, disease screening, as well as avoiding fatty and sugary diets.

Higher levels of education enable an individual to contemplate most of the adverse effects associated with the products that they take. For example, most educated individuals contemplate the adverse effects of smoking, such as the development of lung cancer, as well as retarded growth. In most states, the adverse effects of smoking are indicated on the cigarette packets, written in bold letters in such a way that every individual who takes the product can be warned before proceeding to take it. The uneducated individuals are less likely to either read the precautions or read but fail to contemplate what the precautions entail. In addition, individuals with low educational levels rarely contemplate the importance of embracing health education, even when public health professionals try to reach them in their residential places, and even if they do, they hardly contemplate what the health educator sensitizes them to do (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2015). For example, in order to mitigate the high prevalence of HIV and AIDS, the health sectors in the US have been implementing the prevention and abstinence campaigns; one of the preventive measures to the individuals who are sexually active is through the use of condoms. However, individuals with lower levels of education have not yet managed to use condoms, and this exposes them to the risk of contracting the deadly virus, as well as numerous other sexually transmitted diseases.

The government of Canada is globally known for its contribution towards Free Health Care System, as well as the implementation of Medicare Health Insurance Program, which covers basic medical services, such as the hospital stays, diagnostic tests, doctor visits and surgeries. However, according to the study that was conducted by Common Wealth Fund in 2013, approximately 13% of the Canadians were experiencing cost-related access problem, and this includes not getting a prescription filled (Reddan, 2016). In addition, approximately 14% Canadians were out of pocket by $ 1,000, 29% had to wait for two or more months in order to access special appointment, while 23% were forced to skip dental care due to its cost (Reddan, 2016). In addition to this, most immigrants were being excluded from medical cover from the date that they established their residence in Canada up to the date they’re declared eligible to be Canadian citizens. Despite the Canadians determination of enhancing the accessibility and affordability of quality health care services, most individuals with lower levels of education such as the francophones, aboriginals and the immigrants do not embrace the aspect of seeking quality health care services (Ronson & Rootman, 2004).

Though the Canadian government has a well implemented free primary and post primary education for the residents, this does not apply to the immigrants. Precisely, the immigrants are forced to pay for themselves in both primary and post-primary education, and this makes most of them unable to afford school fees for their children, which in the long run results to high illiteracy levels among this population. Consecutively, though the primary and post-primary education is free in Canada, the Canadian government does not emphasize the importance of parents taking their children to school. Moreover, though the government of Canada provides free primary and post-primary education, it does not provide free education for the tertiary education. Canadian citizens who wish to pursue various courses in the colleges and universities have to pay a minimum of $6,000 per year, and this varies with the program that one intends to pursue (Reddan, 2016). Moreover, the situation tends to be worse for the immigrants, who pay fees that start from $14,000 a year. For example, the University of Toronto charges fees ranging from $6,220 to $13, 620 per year, and these figures tends to be higher for students who pursue technical courses, such as pharmacy and medicine. This means that most students do not manage to go up to the university level, and this has adverse effects, as far as health behaviors are concerned.

Recommendations

The federal government should implement and enact a policy that mandates parents to take children of school going age (between 5-16 years) to school. Parents who fail to honor this directive should be prosecuted in the courts of law for denying their children the constitutional right of attaining basic education. In addition, there is need of enhancing the health communication. The federal government should sensitize the health sector to embrace the aspect of using more than one means of passing health information to the health consumers, as well as the members of the public. For example, with the recent technological developments, the health care providers can incorporate plain language, use of pictures and videotapes in order to ensure most individuals contemplate the health message that they are putting across (Ronson & Rootman, 2004). For example, when sensitizing, concerning the use of condoms, the health professional can demonstrate through the use of pictures and videotapes. Consecutively, there is the need of subsidizing the cost of education in tertiary level in order to ensure most individuals access and afford higher education.

References

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, (2015). Population Health: Behavioral and Social Science Insights: Understanding the Relationship between Education and Health. Retrieved on March 16, 2017 from https://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/education/curriculum-tools/population-health/zimmerman.html

Cutler, D. M. (2007). Policy Brief #9: Education and Health. Retrieved on March 16, 2017 from http://www.npc.umich.edu/publications/policy_briefs/brief9/

Raphael, D. (2016). Social determinants of health: Canadian perspectives.

Reddan, F. (2016). Canada: Health and education. Medicare state health insurance covers most medical services, while the school system is also well regarded. Retrieved on March 16, 2017 from http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/abroad/canada/canada-health-and-education-1.1971723

Ronson, B., & Rootman I. (2004). Literacy and Health in Canada. The Canadian Institute of Health Research. Retrieved on March 16, 2017 from http://www.cpha.ca/uploads/portals/h-l/literacy_e.pdf

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