Health is a condition of emotional, physical and social well being where infirmity and illness are absent. It is an approach to life which recognizes the interdependence of body, mind and spirit. Various definitions have been employed over the years for different medical purposes.
Good health is a product of good living and good personal and community habits and customs. It is influenced by a person’s genetic makeup, social environment, physical activities, food and other dietary practices. The concept of quality of life has also changed with changing lifestyles and more people in developed countries are now acknowledging the need to maintain good health. As with physical well-being, there are a variety of factors that affect quality of life ranging from diet to exercise to stress management and lifestyle choices.
In some cases, health disparities can be blamed on the lack of good communication between people. Lack of information may hinder efforts to implement preventative measures and to recognize potential medical conditions. Health promotion and awareness is an important tool for reducing the health disparities. There are a number of organizations and public agencies which aim at creating awareness about various diseases, prevention measures, medical conditions and their consequences, and available treatments.
One of the biggest factors contributing to health disparities in the United States is maternity leave. Pregnancy can lead to serious health issues for the mother and her baby. Recent studies show that women who take maternity leave after the first year of child birth experience significant improvements in their infant’s survival compared to women who have remained without a maternity leave. Women who return to work shortly after childbirth experience worse health outcomes than women who have remained without a maternity leave. These results were found to be even more pronounced in low-income families where most mothers had previously worked outside the home. Similarly, racial and ethnic groups have been found to have differences in the prevalence of smoking and obesity and differences in the prevalence of common serious health issues like cancer and diabetes.
Economic stability has a direct impact on the quality of life, health and wealth. If a country is not stable, then the quality of life, the health issues that could arise and even the wealth that people have will also be affected. The indicators of economic stability are things like GDP per capita, percentage of industrial production, trade deficit, and interest rates. Economic stability is also manifested in things like consumer confidence, consumer debt to income ratio, and unemployment rate. Other things like international trade, inflation, and the international competitiveness are also reflected in indicators of economic stability.
It is believed that environmental factors also play a role in the emergence of chronic and common diseases. This is because of the fact that poor dietary habits, environmental exposure and sedentary lifestyles are considered to be major causes of illnesses like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. These lifestyle choices could help reduce the health disparities in developed countries like the US and Europe.