Health issues

Topic 4

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  • Created by: Hannah
  • Created on: 10-01-12 12:18

Health is better in wealthier countries

Health- your physical, mental and social well-being.

Health is measured using health indicators, e.g. life expectancy

Life expectancy is higher in MEDC's than LEDC's

Morbidity means illness, indicators include: prevalence- the total number of cases in a population at a particular time, incidence- the number of new cases in a population during a particular time period.

Infectious diseases (e.g. Malaria, HIV/AIDs) are often more common in poorer countries.

Diseases of affluence (e.g. cancer, heart disease) are often more common in wealthier countries.

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Morbidity pattern of infectious diseases

There's high TB morbidity in poorer countries, e.g. Sub-saharan Africa. There's low TB morbidity in wealthier countries, e.g USA.

The reasons for high infectious disease morbidity in poorer countries include:

1) Malnutrition (due to poor food availability and periodic famines)- reduce the bodie ability to fight disease.

2) Lack of clean water and sanitation- increases the spread of infectious diseases.

3) Overcrowded conditions in urban areas- increases the spread of infectious diseases.

4) Poor access to health care- people can't access drugs to treat and prevent infectious diseases.

5) Limited health education- people aren't well informed about how they can avoid infectious diseases.

6) Disease vectors (organisms that spread infectiious diseases)- these are often more common in poorer countries e.g. the mosquitos that spread malaria are more common in tropical regions of Africa.

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Morbidity pattern of diseases of affluence

There's high breast cancer morbidity in wealthier countries. There's low breast cancer morbidity in poorer countries, e.g. countries in Africa and Asia.

The reasons for high 'diseases of affluence' morbidity in wealthier countries include:

1) Higher proportion of older people (due to higher life expectancy)- if there are more old people more people are likely to suffer from diseases associated with old age, e.g. cancer and heart disease.

2) Unhealthy lifestyle- the risk of getting some diseases (e.g. cancer, heart disease) increases if you're overweight or obese, eat unhealthy food and don't do enough exercise. These factors are more common in wealthier countries.

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Mortality patterns depend on morbidity and the abi

1) Mortaliy means death. In general high morbidity causes high mortality.

2) The mortality rate is how many people die in a population over a period of time. You use mortality rates to compare global patterns of death.

The risk of dying from a disease is much higher in poorer countries because of:

1) Malnutrition- reduces the body's ability to fight disease.

2) Poor access to health care- people can't access the drugs they need to treat the disease.

Health and disease are world issues

1) Infectious diseases can spread around the world.

2) Countries need to work together to help improve global health.

3) Organisations like the WHO work with most governments and in most countries to help eradicate and prevent disease.

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Health care approaches

Health care in poorer countries focuses on treating disease.

1) In poorer countries the national income is low, so spending on health tends to be low to.

2) A large proportion of the money that's available for health care is often spent on treating large numbers of patients with diseases. This leaves little money available for preventative healthcare (like vaccinations) or health education.

3) Preventing disease is often a more effective way to improve health than just treating disease.

4) Some poorer countries rely heavily on foreign aid to help with health care, e.g. grants and loans, donated medicines and medical equipment, and volunteer doctors and nurses.

5) Foreign aid can help poorer countries improve health care services in the short-term, but longer-term solutions are needed so countries can become self reliant.

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Local health care training can improve health care

1) A key health care issue in poorer countries is the lack of medical services in remote rural populations.

2) One solution is to train local people in basic health care and employ them to rpovide basic health care services to their local communities. Services include first aid, treating common diseases, providing medicines and vaccinations, pregnancy support and midwifery, and health education. There are advantages and disadvantages to training local basic health care workers:


1) It's a relatively inexpensive way of improving health care and health education in rural areas.

2) It creates jobs for local people.

3) It increases the self reliance of communities.

4) Local basic health care workers are unlikely to leave.

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Local health care training can improve health care


1) Basic health care workers can't replace fully trained medical professionals. So long term solutions must improve access to proper medical facilities and fully trained staff.

Case Study: Local health care workers in Ethiopia

Problem- Ethiopia, in Eastern Africa, is one of the world's poorect countries. There's widespread poor health, e.g. life expectancy is only 52 years and infant mortality is around 8%. People have poor nutrition, poor sanitation and unclean water. Infectious diseases are very common. There's a shortage of medical professionals and health facilities, especially in remote rural areas- in some places there are only 3 doctors per 100,000 people.

Solutions- 1) Ethiopa's government receives foreign aid to improe health, sanitation and access to clean water. Some of the money's spent on preventative health care such as vaccinations and contraceptives.    2) Foreign aid funds the health extension programmes, which trains local health care workers in rural areas. Workers deliver basic healthcare (vaccinations, malaria treatments and maternity care) and health education. But more health workers are still needed by many communities.    3) Money is being used to prevent disease. E.g. since 2005, millions of insecticide treated bed nets have been given out- a cost effective way of preventing the spread of malaria by mosquitos.Cases fell by 20%.

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Ignoring advice makes it difficult to improve heal

1) Health care in wealthier countries isn't that good either, partly because of aging populations. This is when there's a higher proportion of older people in the population- often due to a high life expectancy and low birth rate.

2) More people suffer from age-related illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease. This can put a big strain on health services.

3) Lifestyle choices also affect health. Choosing to eat healthily, exercise, not smoke and reduce alcohol consumption can improve your health.

4) The key barrier to improving health in wealthier countries is people ignoring advice on lifestyle changes that would reduce their chance of developing disease.

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Health care in wealthier countries includes preven

In wealthier countries a great deal of money is spent on preventative health care, such as;

1) Providing vaccinations against diseases (e.g. measles, mumps, meningitis).

2) Health awareness campaigns to promote good lifestyle choices (e.g. eating healthily and taking regular exercise).

3) Providing support services to help people improve their health (e.g. services to help people stop smoking).

4) Early diagnosis (e.g. cancer screening, antenatal screening and screening for heart conditions).

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Case study: Preventing Cervical cancer in England

Problem: Nearly 3000 women and diagnosed with cervial cancer each year in England, which can cause death if left untreated. 99% of all cervical cancers are caused by a virus called HPV (human papillomavirus).


1) Some forms of cervical cancer are preventable by stopping infection with HPV. An HPV vaccine is now offered to all girls aged 12-13 in England.

2) Cervical screening (a smear test) is offered to all women over 25 in England. Unusual cells (signs of cancer) can be detected early, allowing treatment to prevent cancer. Death rates from cervica cancer have decreased by nearly 70 % since screening began.

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