Health Disparities Linked with Economic Gaps

20 02 2010

This is a typical home in the slums of Guatemala

This is a typical style of home in the wealthy areas of Guatemala

Health disparities are almost directly correlated with economic disparities within a country and between countries.  It is very common for health disparities to exist within a country when there are extreme gaps in wealth.    For example, Guatemala is a country in Central America and is one of the poorest countries in Latin America.  The distribution of income remains highly unequal with more than half of the population below the national poverty line and just over 400,000 (3.2%) unemployed. The CIA World Fact Book considers 56.2% of the population of Guatemala to be living in poverty.  Therefore, in this country there is extreme wealth and extreme poverty.  The wealthy people of the population can afford medical care which can prevent and treat diseases.   They also have the education necessary to live healthy lives.  The poorer areas do not have the means to provide their families with sanitation let alone having access to medical care and good education.  The government runs a number of public elementary and secondary-level schools. These schools are free, though the cost of uniforms, books, supplies, and transportation makes them less accessible to the poorer segments of society and significant numbers of poor children do not attend school. Many middle and upper-class children go to private schools.  This education availability or lack thereof increases the economic gap even further.

Since these economic gaps make a significant impact on health disparities around the world today, there have been successful interventions to aid this problem.  One of these interventions is Microfinance which is a banking system which allows people in poorer areas to receive loans in order to sustain a business and allows people the opportunity to get out of poverty and provide their families an education, which leads to better health.  Certain areas in India and Africa are places where this banking system has been the most successful.

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Education in Africa

12 02 2010

These children are orphans because their parents were killed by the AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa

Health People 2010 states that a lack of education is one of the major reasons for health disparities. Disease occurs when people do not know how to prevent or treat a disease.  Health disparities researcher Dr. Dana Goldman says, “Better-educated people are healthier, but the magnitude of the relationship between health and education varies substantially across groups and over time.”  There needs to be a closing of the gap in health knowledge.  In fact, CHAPS is an organization who is trying to bridge the gap because they have a goal to promote health and to eliminate health disparities at a global scale.

Southern Africa is an excellent example of a health disparity due to education problems.  Because of the lack of education in Sothern Africa, their occurrence of AIDS is astronomical.  In 2008 there were an estimated 22.4 million adults and children in Sub-Sahara and Africa living with HIV compared to the 1 million in the United States.  Also, 1.4 million of those African people died from AIDS in that same year.   The African people are not aware that many of them have AIDS and do not know how to prevent contracting the disease.  Because of this lack of education some businesses in Southern Africa are now providing worksite AIDS/HIV education classes while providing free testing and counseling for their employees.