Health Policy, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Health Policy

Health is a word that is elusive. Depending on where and when health is being defined, it can take several different meanings. One cannot define it basing on the absence of disease or healthy working of body organisms. Neither can it be defined with reference to having good mental stability. The term health is holistic. It relates to a person as whole. Its precise definition should be one that encompasses the physical, mental and social faculties of a person. According to the world health organization (WHO), health is a state of being well physically, mentally and socially (WHO 2006). It is not limited to a mere absence of a disease or infirmity. A society develops its own meanings of health based on many factors which may include biological, behavioral, social and physical environment (Longest, 2006).

In all societies, there are factors that determine their health status. As identified by Mourad (2007), there are three major determinants of health in humans. These include biological and behavioral factors, the social environment and the physical environment. These factors give a true picture of what health is to a particular society. In order to implement health policies or practices, a society first has to identify the status of its population with regard to these factors. It is therefore important to discuss each of these factors and the influence they may have on policy making.

Biological and Behavioral Factors

These factors may include prevalence of a disease, or diseases that inherited, as well as a person’s own characteristics and behaviors. The trends in occurrence of the most common diseases in a society can help one assess the health status of its people in relation to their lifestyle. What are the instances in a society that a disease will be inherited? What kinds of ailments are most common in a society? Can these ailments be hereditary or as a result of the way people live in a society? An example of a risk factor that is hereditary is cholesterol levels. According to Toni Baker, cholesterol level as a risk factor for diseases of the heart is inherited (Baker, 2005). Having information concerning what future prevalence of a particular disease will be helps a society prepare on its expenditure on the disease. In 2006 for instance, it was projected that the United States of America would spend 140 billion dollars on heart disease (CDC 2006). A society may also have behavioral risk factors that may lead to illnesses. It is also worthy noticing that high cholesterol, obesity, smoking and tension are behavioral factors that increase a person’s risk for heart disease. Studying the precedence of fast foods amongst people, the number of smokers and the stress levels that people encounter in their day-to-day activities will also assist the society determine the prevalence of heart in the population.

The social and economic environment

The risk of a person developing heart disease is greatly influenced by his/her tension or stress. This tension and stress are risk factors that expose one to such diseases. Dangers associated to work and feeling of insecurity may also cause anxiety and tension in a person. There are factors that may contribute to a declining health status of a society. They include having a diet dominated with highly processed foods, low fiber content and artificial flavors, having increased tension and anxiety related to performance in education, career or job. Availability of medical care services and facilities may be an issue, but the socioeconomic status of a person determines his/her ability to obtain quality and decent preventive care.

Physical environment

Where we live and what is physically found in our living places is what we consider as the physical environment. Amongst the many environmental factors to evaluate, let us consider air pollution. Air pollution can cause breathing difficulties and burning eyes (American Academy of Family Physicians, 2005). Increased air pollution has lead to increase in level of diseases that are transmitted by air, or those that result from lack of sufficient fresh air. For instance, people living in urban areas have a higher level of asthma and other allergic complaints. This is a contrast with what can be found in serene rural area with lots of trees and less carbon emissions from heavy industries and automobiles. Apart from air pollution, bacteria, viruses and parasites can also cause diseases. Bacteria and viruses do exist in our environment but they are not a major cause of diseases. As regards the health of humans, it is people who create fertile grounds for microorganisms to replicate through their life style.

Now that we have the society’s definition of health and the determinants of health in humans, it is important to mention how the society puts into practice. In the United States, health policies are created to meet objectives that are set by various stake holders (Longest, 2006). The government’s focus when formulating and putting into practice healthy policy is guided by the health determinants. The healthy policy created by the government compensates for any deficiency that the society may have, pertaining to their health determinants. In return, this determines the healthcare system and the overall health of the public (Longest, 2006).

An individual’s states of health or illnesses can be determined by the public health care and the medical strategy. The understanding that a person has on his or her own health may not be the same as what medical experts diagnose. With this idea in mind, we should note that increased access to technology has changed people’s perception towards health. Over the years, medical technology has been applied to develop solutions to an increasing number of health conditions. Examples of these applications include medical and surgical procedures, drugs, medical devises and new support systems. Some medical technology has become easier to use and less expensive than it was some years ago. The equipment used has also become more transportable due to increased technology in their construction and manufacturing. With this increase in technological ability, the society’s ability to research and development is on the increase.

As mentioned earlier, health policies are decisions that are made to meet the objectives formulated by the government, the public and the private sector on how a particular community will be compensated for any inability that it has in regards to its health determinants. So to say, these determinants have a great influence on the society’s decisions as to how to provide healthcare services to its people. For example the government has to budget for funds that it will spend in providing healthcare services to a community that is characterized by low financial income and ability. On the other hand, when a community is exposed to risk factors such as water or air pollution, the government may consider compensating the affected people by offering them free medical services so that their health is enhanced without much restriction. In other words the indicators or health direct the decisions that a community makes in order to ensure people have good and sustainable health.

References

Health, United States. (2010). With Special Feature on Medical Technology. Hyattsville, MD.

Longest, B. (2006). Health Policymaking in the United States, 4th ed. Health Administration Press, Chicago.

Mourad,  A. (2007). The perception and determinants of health. Retrieved from http://voices.yahoo.com/the-perception-determinants-health-173956.html?cat

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