Hepatitis in Asia

31 03 2010

According to Stanford University’s Asian Liver Center, Worldwide, there are about 350 million people who are infected with chronic hepatitis B virus. About 78 percent, or 275 million people, of those individuals reside in Asia or the Pacific Islands.

Lifelong infection with hepatitis B can lead to liver cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. About one million people die each year from liver cancer or liver failure caused by hepatitis B. That’s the equivalent of 2,800 deaths per day.

According to the Bristol-Meyers Squibb Foundation, China has the highest incidence of the disease, with an estimated 170 million people with lifelong infections. With only about four percent of those affected reportedly receiving treatment, each year about 300,000 Chinese die from hepatitis B.

This is a large worldwide health disparity since incidents of Hepatitis B is much lower in all other parts of the world.  But there is something being done to advocate for these Asian people.  The Shanghai Charity Foundation, working with the Shanghai Center for Disease Control, will use a $371,000 Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation grant to develop awareness programs for 200,000 people, including migrant workers, high risk groups in both urban and factory areas, school children and teachers, and hepatitis patients and their families.


Minority Health Disparities in the United States

25 03 2010

In the United States racial and ethnic minorities suffer from worse health compared to their white counterparts. The CDC and FamiliesUSA state that the statistics as of 2008 for minority health disparities are:

  • American Indians are 638 percent more likely to suffer from alcoholism, 400 percent more likely to contract tuberculosis, 67 percent more likely to have pneumonia or influenza, and 20 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease then whites.
  • African-American men are 50 percent more likely to suffer from prostate cancer than white men, and they are more than twice as likely as white men to die as a result of the cancer.
  • American Indians are more than twice as likely to suffer from diabetes as whites.
  • Although they made up only 26 percent of the U.S. population, African Americans and Latinos accounted for 67 percent of newly reported AIDS cases.
  • The maternal mortality rate for African-American women is nearly five times the maternal mortality rate for white women
  • Private health insurance coverage among persons under age 65 was only 40% for Hispanics/Latinos, compared to 75.6% for non-Hispanic whites

Franklin Delano Roosevelt stated, “the success or failure of any government in the final analysis must be measured by the well-being of its citizens. Nothing can be more important to a state than its public health; the state’s paramount concern should be the health of its people.” Now my question is, are we succeeding or failing?

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.

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.