Factors that Influence the Health of the Community

Introduction

Community health is one of the most common concerns of governments and non-governmental organizations in the developed countries. The reason for this is that healthy community is the success of a country in numerous spheres, which range from birth ratio and quality of life to the economic progress. In fact, healthy citizens visit doctors less and require less expenditure associated with healthcare. Moreover, they are more productive and lead to the steady and predictable progress of businesses and other activities. Thus, the policy of the predominant part of developed economies does not avoid considering the issues, which restrain the progress of community health strategies. Similarly, they propose various initiatives in order to foster the quality of care and mitigate the most common problems associated with poor community health. This paper analyzes the factors that influence the health of the community in different countries. It addresses different indicators of the issues and the most typical problems of the developed and developing countries. Similarly, it considers the peculiarities of the commonalities among the countries that have the longest life expectancies. Lastly, it evaluates the reasons, which cause the fact that the US ranks of the community health are poorer than expected. The result of the analysis would increase the awareness of citizens, governmental and non-governmental organizations about the factors, which require consideration and mitigation. As a result, the performed research would foster the community to increase the pressure towards responsible organizations regarding the need for the development of the spheres associated with community health.

Health of the Community

Before addressing health issues of the community, it is important to characterize this social phenomenon overall. Experts claim that community is a group of people who share similar living area, has coinciding basic values, organization, and interests, as well as has a sense of local collective identity (Brieger, n.d.). Thus, any community functions as a social system in which different social institutions play specific roles serving the community and meeting its local and general needs. It greatly depends on social relations and is governed by means of different political systems, which shape the forms of leadership, groups and subgroups and other community aspects. Thus, the biggest part of communities has its government, army, financial, educational, scientific, religious, medical institutions and other. Despite these structures function on separate or cooperative basis, there are mutual factors, which influence their overall working efficacy and validity. In this sense, health is one of the most significant aspects because each individual has specific requirements for healthy living. That is why the duty of every organization in particular and governmental and non-governmental organizations overall is the introduction and maintenance of healthcare standards. These standards form a framework that assures support of community health issues. Consequently, those societies in which this framework works properly are characterized with bigger life expectancies and higher satisfaction with quality of life. At the same time, it is evident that the level of the development of various countries is different. As a result, each nation has its individual problems associated with the community health.

The Most Common Community Health Problems in Poor Countries

The procedure of assessment of community health issues requires thorough consideration of different factors. Among them are income and social status, social support services, the level of education and literacy, employment, and working conditions, children support programs, social environment, and health services (“Community Health Assessment Guidelines,” 2009). As a result, countries with poor social and economic development and the presence of different aggravating factors cannot obtain high scores. It is critical to denote that the aim of such scoring is the need for the demonstration of countries, which have problems and their thorough consideration. It is expected that governmental and non-governmental agencies responsible for community health issues would respond appropriately in mitigating the factors, which deteriorate the community’s health. Furthermore, the analysis of health indicators allows trackng changes in health status over time for the same population and comparing the scores with other populations (“Community Health Assessment Guidelines,” 2009). Thus, it is important to prioritize the actual problems relevant towards different communities.

Among the communities that require the application of advanced practices for mitigating severe community health problems are African countries. The reason for this is that this continent incorporates the poorest countries in the world (The World Bank, 2014). Consequently, the predominant part of African communities have poor access to fresh water and sanitation, the least possible health care facilities access, and poor literacy. Additionally, African communities are one of the fastest growing in the world (The World Bank, 2014), which leads to the fact that the progress of the implementation of the community health strategies is slowing down. At the same time, some of the problems of African communities may seem even illogical for the developed societies representatives. For instance, one of the most common needs is the distribution of vitamin A supplements, insecticide-treated nets and vaccines (WHO, 2008). Moreover, there is a need for the provision of knowledge of the simplest hygiene procedures and the distribution of the simplest medicals. Additionally, cultural practices of some African population significantly differ from the ones of the Western world, which may lead to misunderstanding. Consequently, various ethical dilemmas may emerge when people go to treat diseases to shaman doctors instead of visiting hospitals with skilled medical specialists. However, the latest surveys demonstrate that the issue of African shamanism as healing has been mostly combated. Thus, among 69.3% of people in South Africa, 24.6% prefer consulting a private doctor, 4.3% favor private hospitals along with 0.2% visiting traditional healers (Wilkinson, 2013). Therefore, it is evident that the problems of poor nations are generally shared because of such factors as the absence of funds spent on the development of health issues. Similarly, the overall level of culture, knowledge, and simple medical and hygiene practices requires significant improvement. Nevertheless, some of the described problems are relevant regarding the most successful communities as well.

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Characterizing the Most Successful Communities

Characterizing the most successful communities in terms of the evaluation of community health issues, there is a need to state that their setting significantly differs from the one of the poor societies. These countries have hospitals with the best equipment, qualified personnel, medical insurance policies, high level of accessibility of care and other benefits. In this sense, there is no developed country, which could have problems with vitamin supplements or low literacy level. According to the World Health Organization, among the top five countries with the best level of community health are the UK, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, and Germany (Munro, 2014). As a result, these countries have the longest life expectancies. The report addressed such factors as the quality of care, its accessibility, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives. At the same time, the mentioned countries have problems, which significantly differ from the ones present in South Africa. For instance, the evaluation of the state of healthcare in the UK demonstrates that there is a need for the increase of patient safety. Among the most common health risks for patients, scholars name pressure ulcers, falls with harm, catheter-acquired urinary tract infections, and venous thromboembolism (Foot, Sonola, Bennett, Fitzsimons, Raleigh, & Gregory, 2014). Other potential risks incorporate healthcare-acquired infections, risks of transferring patients from one department and institution to another and medication errors. Furthermore, the specialists from Switzerland consider other aspects of the problem. For example, the health reports indicate that the factors associated with impairments to good health in this country include cardiovascular, diseases, mental health problems, new infections threats, and accidents (Swiss Health Observatory, 2008). Thus, the community of Switzerland focuses more on general issues because such aspects as the qualification of medical care specialists are comparatively high. However, among the typical problems in such societies are the demographic change and the need to control financial resources associated with the health care sector. Thus, there are common claims that the number of older people is rising, which require the appropriate increase in the quantity of medical specialists (Swiss Health Observatory, 2008). Furthermore, there is a need for more efficient control of rising medical costs and premiums. The basis for this need and the general commonality is that “the more prosperous a society is, the more use it makes of medical services” (Swiss Health Observatory, 2008, p. 23). Consequently, this statement is one of the borderlines, which distinguish the problems of medical care in the developed and developing counties. Notwithstanding this fact, the analysis of the situation with community health in the United States demonstrates that there is no direct dependence between the level of expenditures and the level of care.

Community Health Issues in the United States

Characterizing the problems of community health issues in the United States, one has to mention that despite this country represents the developed economy its community health score is rather poor. Thus, Munro (2014) indicates that “the U.S. is the most expensive healthcare system in the world, but many continue to falsely assume that we pay more for healthcare because we get better health.” The demonstration of this controversy is the report of the World Health Organization in which the United States takes the 11th position after such countries as Canada and France (Munro, 2014). Some experts explain this by the fact that social institutions in the country practice irrelevant approaches towards the identification of problems (Minkler, 2012). However, the problems are generally identified by different reports similar to the one enlisted by the World Health Organization. Thus, among other critical indicators of the drawbacks of the healthcare system is ranking 34th among the world’s nations in infant mortality (Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, 2013), and financial divide of stakeholders. The latter result in the failure when providing the equal level of access to all populations because of the closed access to healthcare of poorer populations (Wolfe, 2011). Similarly, there are claims that the US healthcare system has no universal health care coverage policy (Munro, 2014), which deteriorates the level of accessibility of care. Furthermore, the US healthcare lacks efficacy because of “administrative hassles, avoidable emergency room use, and duplicative medical testing” (Munro, 2014). Consequently, it is evident that the highly industrialized country, which has the greatest expenditures on health care, requires restructuring of its healthcare system. Therefore, the introduction of relevant strategies would increase the level of community health and the quality of life of the nation.

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Conclusion

Summarizing the presented information, the paper concludes that the United States has systemic problems in the healthcare system, which lead to the poor level of community health. Thus, the analysis of the overall state of community health issues in different countries demonstrates that the developing countries have different issues from the developed ones. For instance, African communities have poor fresh water and sanitations access, low level of literacy and other factors, which are mostly the result of the poverty of the nations. This leads to the fact that the increase of community health in Africa depends on the accessibility of vitamins, medications, vaccines and other items along with competent medical professionals. In their turn, the most typical problems of the developed countries regarding community health are more specified. For instance, the population of Switzerland requires the increase of nursing specialists whereas the UK medical facilities aim at increasing patient safety. At the same time, the aspect, which unites these countries, is the availability of almost unlimited financial resources. As a result, these resources require adequate control and distribution. It appears that the United States scores among the developed countries with the poorest level of community health because of the disproportion of expenditures and healthcare efficacy. Consequently, there is a need for the introduction of adequate strategies, which foster numerous positive changes beneficial for community health.

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