“Morbidity refers to the prevalence or the frequency of a particular disease in a specific region or population. Medically it can be used to describe the medical complications that arise due to a special treatment” (Cancer Research UK, 2017). Mortality, on the other hand, involves the figure of deaths reported among a population within a set duration of time. Simply put, it is the state of being destined to pass away.
“Report on mortality can be based on people living in a specific area or country, people deceased from a particular illness, and deaths of a certain age or gender or ethnic population” (Cancer Research UK, 2017). The cause of both mortality and morbidity lies in several factors found within the surroundings, and this may include technological factors, pollution of the environment among others. However, the purpose of this study is to mainly look at the environmental, economic and social factors that impact the morbidity and mortality rate of the UK population.
It is evident from past studies done in the policy paper, Healthy Lives, Healthy People: our strategy for public health in England – GOV.UK., by the UK government reveal that citizens of the UK are living longer and healthier than people from other nations (Bennett et al., 2015). The positive aspect brought by the decline in mortality and morbidity is associated with several primary enhancement in the social dimension of their lives such as they achieved high ratings for overall life satisfaction, the economy and personal finances.
“The decrease in the death rate of both infants and adults has attributed innovations within the public health that comprises of mass immunization initiatives, enhanced sewerage services alongside water quality that significantly minimized cases of infectious ailments” (Policy Paper-GOV.UK, 2017). The impact has been positive as social factors such as healthy living have prolonged life, therefore, reducing both morbidity and mortality rates. “For instance, 501, 424 deaths were recorded in Wales and England which is a 1.1% decrease compared to the 506, 790 deaths that were recorded in 2013” (Policy Paper-GOV.UK, 2017).
People have put the interest of their health first, and as a result, they have invested heavily in it by increasing the spending to 8.9% in a report by OECD in 2015 (Devaux, 2015). Some opt for insurance and health schemes to ensure their health gets taken care of in the event of an illness. Investment in health helps in ensuring that the people can consume more and at the same time reduce the occurrence of illness. “The inequalities witnessed in the UK population reveal high levels of health inequalities, and the result of this is economic status” (Balia & Jones, 2008).
A person’s socioeconomic status directly correlates with the health care they receive. Therefore, based on the statistics of deaths reported and registered by the Office for National Statistics in the UK in 2017 indicated that the mortality rate rises from the highest social class as it goes down to the lowest social classes (McLaren, 2017). In some lower social classes, the death rate doubled the rate in the highest social class.
The same observation was also made in the morbidity rate as those in the lower social class had challenges in accessing proper care and healthy living due to their economic status. The table below provides statistics on the important findings on mortality rate based on socio-economic factors such as social classes, education, and gender.
Table 1. Percentage death rate in different socio-economic groups 2014-2015
Source: (“Death registrations summary tables – England and Wales- Office for National Statistics”, 2017)
The statistics on the table provides a clear picture of the number of deaths over the ten-year period. The data reveals that there are high death rates among the older generation compared with the younger population. However, there is a considerable general decline in the number of deaths reported in the ten-year period. A good example is the number of deaths reported among the age bracket of 10-14 whose death rates had reduced by 50% ((McLaren, 2017).
These factors entail pollution of the environment through the use of toxic chemicals. Contamination of the environment affects water and the air of the affected region. Several deaths have been reported within the UK as a result of chemical, air and water pollution. However, such deaths and illnesses created by such pollution can be avoided.
However, the reduction in environment pollution in the UK has reduced deaths and diseases considerably making the nation a safe environment for its citizens. Therefore,, the effect on morbidity and mortality has been a positive one as it has reduced the rates in UK over the ten year period.
Review of statistical and research evidence
Research conducted in the field of health regarding eating disorders reveal the following facts. “People in the UK estimated to have an eating disorder are estimated at 725,000 in a report produced by PwC” (“Eating Disorder Statistics – Beat,” 2017). The report further identified the common types of disorders defined in the population as mainly (BED) Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia, and anorexia.
However, the most common among the three eating disorders was binge eating disorder. The eating disorder was attributed to starting mainly among adolescents without negating the fact that even children young as six years and adults as old as 70 years could develop it. The level of eating disorders reflect on the reduced level of morbidity happening in the UK because of careful watch on their health.
In a correlated research carried out by Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in 2013, it was discovered that approximately two-thirds of the male and female population in the UK are overweight. “The study identified the largest victim of obesity being men with a representation of 67% while women came close with 57%” (Sedghi, 2014). In a cancer research, it was estimated that around 50% of cancer patients in Wales and England have survived for ten years or more.
However, in the UK the results are more positive as the rate of cancer survival has moved from 24% to 505 within the same duration of time. “The variation in survival of different types of cancer has grown further to 98% in the UK” (B-eat.co.uk, 2017). The improved rate of cancer survival has impacted the mortality rate in the UK hence reduced it substantially.
Patterned inequalities in health and illness
Bennett et al., among other authors have recognized variations in the delivery of health by age, gender, ethnicity and social class (Bennett et. al, 2015). Disparities in access to healthcare have become measured through application of many different outcomes such as mortality rates, infant deaths, morbidity, life expectancy, and disability.
The Black report in 1980 was done to identify the inequality challenge as the health of the nation had improved but not equivalent to societal classes (Sim, & Mackie, 2006). The findings revealed that standards of health care were linked directly to social class. “One of the leading causes of the inequalities involved unemployment, low income, substandard housing, poor education and poor environment (B-eat.co.uk, 2017).”
As for gender, research showed that men in industrialized countries such as the UK live shorter than women and show to less experience of the adverse condition. “Although men have greater death numbers from causes of deaths such as lung cancer and ischemic heart disease, more women than men feel pain from somatic grievances such as a headache, tiredness, and muscular aches (Bartley, 2004).”
Table 2: Selected developed countries by order of life expectancy at birth in 2014
Source: (“Health status – Life expectancy at birth – OECD Data”, 2014).
Evaluation of sources
The sources for the information obtained above include the office for national statistics in the United Kingdom. The source is credible as it is a national website and information provided to the public has to be evaluated for credibility before posting. “The other sources entail data and statistics from research conducted by credible scholars in the field of economics and the field of health care (McLaren, 2017).”
The work by McLaren provides a detailed analysis of the health inequalities happening in the UK. A clear and structural look is provided by the policy paper supports the same information provided by McLaren that provide similarity and confirms consistency as well as reliability of the sources. Article reviews written by other authors have provided support to the applied sources. The reviews assist in making the sources applied credible as well as reliable.
Evaluation of contrasting reasons for health inequalities
• The structural material explanation.
“The argument entails the lack of proper housing and access to health facilities due to poverty contribute to health inequalities (Policy Paper-GOV.UK, 2017).” It requires assessment of factors such as the workplace, the neighborhood and the home environment. The attempt to reduce health inequality through reduction of health inequality is viable and reasonable. The explanation is not applicable in the modern environment as most of the health facilities have been upgraded to quality standards.
• The artefact explanation.
It attempts to account for the health inequalities as a creation of the process of measurement. It looks at the class differentials in two aspects, all-cause and specific cause data for both mortality and morbidity. “However, the explanation as reviewed by several critiques proved pervasive and complex (McLaren, 2017).” The application of this explanation is still relevant and applicable in the current period but its complexities requires proper understanding.
• The social selection report.
Social selection involves the concept of personal health affecting their mobility in the social setting, leading to a particular state in the social hierarchy which is an essential element that contributes towards social class variation seen in health care. It provides a clear framework of how social selection positions an individual in the society and results to health inequalities. The social selection report is very applicable today as social hierarchy still exists. Social variation remains a challenge in the society and the report provides a clear explanation.
• The behavioural-cultural explanation.
The description clearly describes the interconnection between culture and behaviour. The behavior of individuals such as association with aggressive and violence acts result to a culture of crime, and drug abuse will lead to discrimination in health care provision. The connection between behavior and culture is still a prominent factor in 2017 that contributes to health inequalities. Therefore, the behavioral-cultural explanation is a reliable explanation for the inequalities within the health care in UK.
Relationship between welfare inequalities and theories of health alongside health policies development
The cultural or behavior of an individual can be explained better using the social cognitive theory. The theory suggests that people learn from their experiences as individuals alongside the interaction with the environment. “It helps in the provision of self-efficacy and application of observational learning which can easily be applied to various populations and setting in the formulation of health policies (Sedghi, 2014).”
The cultural and behavioral theory provides observational data that provides foundation for health policies. An example is the policy regarding a culture of safety that heavily relies on data collected on behavior of patients.
• Material structural.
The material structure can well be defined through the use of the theory of planned behavior. The application of health policies requires determination of a pattern of individual behaviors within a specified population. Therefore, the material and structural model applied in solving health inequality will be suitable in ensuring that people receive the material support needed.
The material structural theory focuses on the established patterns which provide a framework that can be used in forecasting hence helps in formulation of health policies. An example of such a policy is an injury prevention policy done at the community level heavily relies on the material structural theory where individuals planned behavior are recorded.
The collectivism approach entails the use of class to define the constructs of a health belief. Therefore, the health belief model is appropriate in providing understanding on the health inequality concern in the UK. It is a theoretical structure applied in conducting health advancement and illness deterrence programs.
The constructs of health belief provided by the collectivism theory assist in establishing sound health policies within the required health guidelines. An example entails the stewardship as a policy in health that helps in ensuring that the health of people in the society is a social obligation.
• New Right.
The approach asserts that constant provision of aid by the government affects the process of a free market. “The argument states that regular provision of assistance contributes to perpetual poverty among the affected population” (Sedghi, 2014).
The policies within health care require quality attention, and when own standards of health care outperform those of public care, then health inequalities arise. The theory provides a framework under which health policies are formulated. Policies created that rely on family such as social policy heavily employ the New Right approach in the health sector.
The provision of health in the UK is perceived to have grown and improved tremendously. However, the Black Report in 1980 and the Acheson report in 1998 among others have identified that the improvement has several inequalities ranging from various factors such as economic, social, ethnic and environmental factors.
The differences can be seen across gender, age, social class, and ethnicity. The solutions and various explanations in the paper reveal that it is possible to bridge the gap created as a result of social class differences among other factors as highlighted through the use of the health theories.
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