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14 Dec 2010
Textbook NotesChapter 19: Health and Medicine 1
Health and Inequality
Heath: according to the world health organization, it isthe ability of an individual to achieve
his / or her potential and to respond positively to the challenges of the environment.
Sociologists tend to examine the negatives of health (death rates etc) while World Health
Organization examines the positives to promote good health.
Lower alchol and fat consumption.. healthier lifestyle
Jeanne Louise Calment ( lived until she is 122 )
Highest life expectancy = 82 (Japan), Canada = 80, thus Canadians are being deprived of about
2 years of life because of avoidable social causes (82-80 = 2).
The Social Causes of Illness and Death
Other than natural causes of illness and death, there are 3 types of social causes.
1. Human-environmental factors: social class, occupation, and nationality correspond to sharp
differences in the surroundings in which people work and live.
1. Environmental Racism: the tendency to heap environmental dangers on the
disadvantaged. (having pollution near poor countries)
2. Lifestyle factors: alcohol and drugs, poor diet, lack of exercise, and social isolation.
3. Factors related to the public health and health care system: State's public and private health
1. Public Health system (comprises government-run programs that ensure access to clean
drinking water, basic sewage and sanitation services, and inoculation against infectious
2. Health care system: is composed of a nation's clinics, hospitals, and other facilities for
ensuring heath and treating illness.
All of the above relate to country of residence, class, race, and gender.
Country of Residence
Infant mortality: the number of deaths before the age of 1 for every 1000 live births in a
population in 1 year.
Class Inequalities and Health Care
Socioeconomic and demographic measures (people on the social scale, rich people have access
to health care, therefore eliminates lots of illness and etc) have the most effect on health status
comparing to other factors like behavioral risk factors (drinking, smoking etc).
Below are factors why health deteriorates as we move down the class hierarchy:
High stress and the inability to cope with it
Differences in the earliest stages of development that have lifelong consequences
Lack of Knowledge
Unequal access to health resources
Environmental Exposure.
Gender Inequalities in Health Care: The Feminist Contribution
More research has focused on “men's diseases and less on “women's diseases like breast
cancer etc. Women have been excluded from participating in health research studies.
Women undergo fewer medical treatments.
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