‘We are healthier today than previous generations because of public health’. Discuss.
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Definitions of health, and the concept of good health has evolved through time. Traditionally, good health has been defined as merely the absence of disease (Godlee, 2011). However, modern concepts of disease challenge this recognizing the complexity of health and its wider determinants. Health has been defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity (WHO, 1948). This definition was considered as progressive in it’s day, but has since been criticized for being absolute and consequently unattainable (Brüssow, 2013). The holistic approach to health is inclusive of other notions of health such as spiritual health which is determined by many factors involving a sense of fulfillment, peacefulness and successful management of everyday life problems and demands as well as social stress (Beltrán-Sánchez et al., 2015). The Dahlgren-Whitehead model developed in 1991 was instrumental to illustrating what influences health outside of individual lifestyle factors primarily the broader downstream determinants of health such as employment, access to healthcare services and environmental conditions (Dahlgren G & Whitehead M. 1991). Measuring health is integral to understanding the effectiveness of public health strategies aimed at improving the overall health status of a population. Conventionally health has been assessed through widespread use of indicators which in turn inform the practice of public health (Flowers et al., 2005).
This paper will consider if we are healthier today than previous generations because of public health focusing on the population of the United Kingdom since the 1950s as a center for discussion. We will consider the history of public health in waves of activity and examine the notable public health achievements which arguably make us healthier today than previous generations. Furthermore, the body of this work will critically explore the three major public health issues communicable and non-communicable as well as mental health within the above-mentioned parameters.
Communicable Diseases (800 words)
We are healthier now – vaccine programs 1950s – now. Mass vaccination has increased life expectancy, we have vaccines now for diseases we didn’t have 70 years ago
Childhood immunization program
Challenges to vaccination programs – delivery/uptake
Anti-vaxxers threaten this
Antimicrobial resistance, Healthcare associated infections
Public health efforts to control communicable diseases – online campaigns such as symptom awareness and encouraging sanitary behaviors. more recently Covid-19 issues. Widening social inequalities
HIV/TB – public health challenges. Rising rates of infection in migrant communities, stigma in these communities results in people not seeking help/cases go unreported
Rising rates of STIs
Non-communicable Diseases (800 words)
People living longer not healthier. Why is this the case? Marmot review – social inequalities of health
Global burden of disease study – critical analysis of this
Other studies to show we are living longer but not healthier than previous generations
PH strategies focused on prevention/health promotion – e.g. heart disease, smoking cessation, alcohol misuse – have these been a success? Critical analysis of the effectiveness of these strategies, and show evidence
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