Which of the following statements are most accurate regarding health disparities worldwide?
There are considerable health disparities between different countries.
There is a great deal of variability in health outcomes within countries.
Health disparities are decreasing over time.
There is no clear consensus on what constitutes a health disparity.
While it is true that there are significant disparities between different countries when it comes to health, it is also important to note that there are substantial variations in health outcomes within countries as well. Some studies have shown that health disparities decrease over time, though not always the case.
It is also worth noting that there is no clear consensus on what constitutes a health disparity, making it difficult to track and measure these inequalities accurately. Nevertheless, it is clear that there are significant variations in health between countries and that these disparities have a great deal of influence on the world’s health overall.
Health disparities, also known as health inequalities or just health gaps, are differences in the incidence of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health across different populations.
Health disparity is a broad term covering all potential statuses with socially created health status gaps. Modern usage is usually applied to negative differences in health status linked with specific social groups and communities within the population where education and income are determinants or markers of such prevalence rates.
Health inequality among various people often highlights specific social attributes that can promote either health or disease within a population. It is often the social and cultural differences in geographical location, socioeconomic status, etc., that directly contribute to such variations in health outcomes among people.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes social determinants of health as key contributors to health disparities between populations: “Social determinants affect a wide range of potential health outcomes and are mostly responsible for persistent and inequitable results in health and disease worldwide.”
Health inequalities have shown to most often arise from economic deprivation regarding access to both sound quality healthcare and accessing resources needed to live generally healthy lifestyles.
This includes where individuals are born, what families they are born into, their life situations while growing up, their education opportunities, occupation, housing, access to healthcare, etc.
However, certain factors at a micro-level can be controlled, which may impact health inequities such as individual lifestyle choices, including smoking, healthy eating, drug use, and exercise regimes. At a more significant level, social scientists have noted that the structure of the societies we live within does not always promote equity or equality of opportunity where resources are scarce.
In Canada, for example, those living in more rural areas with higher levels of poverty tend to have less access to affordable, high-quality food. This problem is often compounded by a lack of education for many individuals who live in impoverished communities about what constitutes a nutritious diet and how important it is to eat well.
In addition to this, there is often a lack of recreational facilities and safe spaces to play in these communities, making it difficult for children and youth to get the exercise they need. This can lead to health problems down the road, such as obesity and diabetes.
It is important to note that not all health disparities are due to economic factors. Race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation are major contributing factors to health gaps between populations.
For example, Indigenous people in Canada have shorter life expectancies than non-Indigenous people and experience more chronic diseases, injuries, and social determinants of poor health such as poverty and racism. This is partly because Indigenous people face significant barriers when accessing healthcare services.
They also often experience discrimination in the workplace and social settings, leading to increased stress levels and poorer health outcomes.
Women also face many health disparities compared to men. They are more likely to experience chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and arthritis, and they are also more likely to die from preventable causes such as childbirth or cancer.
This is often because women often have less access to healthcare services than men, and they are also more likely to live in poverty. Additionally, women often experience discrimination based on their gender, leading to poorer health outcomes.
Sexual minorities also experience significant health disparities when compared to heterosexual people. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are more likely to smoke, use drugs and alcohol, get little to no exercise and eat unhealthy diets.
This is often because sexual minorities are subject to discrimination in their day-to-day lives, particularly their sexuality. This can lead to increased levels of stress which can, in turn, lead to poorer health behaviors.
Members of the transgender community also experience discrimination in society, significantly impacting their health. Transgender people are more likely to attempt suicide or self-harm.
They are less likely to get the mental healthcare services they need. They often experience discrimination when trying to access healthcare in general.