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Chapter: Sociology of Health : Sociology of Health

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Health: A Global Survey

As mentioned in the above points health is closely linked with social life. Research shows that human well‐being has improved over the long course of history as societies have developed economically.

HEALTH: A GLOBAL SURVEY:

 

As mentioned in the above points health is closely linked with social life. Research shows that human wellbeing has improved over the long course of history as societies have developed economically. For the same reason there is striking differences in the health of rich and poor societies today.

 

 

 

1. Health in history:

 

Health passed through two phases:

 

·                 Our ancestors could do little to improve health with only simple technology. Hunters and gathers faced frequent food shortage, which sometimes forced mothers to abandon their children. Those lucky enough to survive infancy were still vulnerable to injury and illness, so half died by the age of twenty and few lived to the age of forty(Nolan &Lenski, 1999; Scupin, 2000).

 

·                 As societies developed agriculture, food became more plentiful. At social inequality also increased, so that the elites enjoyed better health than the peasants and slaves, who lived in crowed, unsanitary shelters and often went hungry. In the growing cities of medieval Europe, human waste and other refuse piled up in the streets, spreading infectious disease and plagues that periodically wiped out entire towns (Mumford, 1961).

 

 

 

2.  Health in lowincome countries:

 

Severe poverty in much of the world cuts life expectancy far below the seventy or more years typical of rich societies. People of most part of Africa have a life expectancy of barely fifty, and in poorest countries of the world, most people die before reaching their teen.

 

The World Health Organization reports that 1 billion people around the world one in six suffer from serious illness due to poverty. Bad health results just not for eating only one kind of food but, more commonly, from simply having too little to eat. Poor sanitation and malnutrition kill people of all ages, especially children.

 

In impoverished countries, safe drinking water is as hard to come by as balanced diet, and bad water carries a number of infectious diseases, including influenza, pneumonia, and tuberculosis, which are wide spread killers in poor societies today. To make matter worse, medical personnel are few and far between so the world’s poorest people – many of whom live in central Africa never see a physician. In poor nations with minimal medical care, it is no wonder that 10 percent of children die within the year of their birth.

 

In much of the world, illness and poverty form a vicious circle: Poverty breeds disease which in turn undermines people’s ability to work. Moreover when medical technology does control infectious disease, the population of poor nations rises. Without resources to ensure the wellbeing of people they have now, poor societies can illafford population increases. Thus, programs that lower death rates in poor countries will succeed only if they are coupled with programs that reduce birth rates as well.

 

3.  Health in highincome countries:

 

Industrialization dramatically changed patterns of human health. By 1800s, as the Industrial Revolution took hold, factory jobs took people from all over the countryside. Cities quickly became overcrowded, a conditions creating serious sanitation problems. Moreover, factories fouled the air with smoke, which few saw as threat to health until well into the twentieth century. Accidents in work place were common.

 

But industrialization gradually improved health by providing better nutrition and safer housing for most people. After 1850, medical advances began to control infectious diseases.

 

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