The Unequal Distribution of Health

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The Unequal Distribution of Health

This essay aims to look at the unequal distribution of health, focussing on ethnic minority inequalities. Health is defined as a state of emotional, physical and social well being and not just the absence of illness and disease. Health has been steadily improving however not everyone is able to share the benefits of the improvements. The difference in one’s health status is driven by inequalities in society. Health is shaped by many factors such as lifestyle, wealth, education, job security, housing conditions and psychosocial stress. Health inequalities start in early life and can continue not only into old age but also into subsequent generations.

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (2007) inform us that Black and ethnic minority groups generally have the poorest health than the overall population. There is evidence to suggest that the poorer socio economic position of the black and minority ethnic groups is the main factor that drives health inequalities. Ethnicity results from many aspects of difference that are socially and politically important in the United Kingdom. These include race, culture, religion and nationality, which all have an impact on a person’s identity and how others see them. They may see themselves as British, Punjabi, Asian or Indian at different times and in different circumstances. Black and minority ethnic groups are usually classified by methods used in the UK census, which asks people to indicate which group they feel they belong to.

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (2007) tell us that large surveys were carried out, such as the health survey for England. This showed that Black and minority ethnic groups as a whole were more likely to have ill health and that ill health among them started at a younger age than that of the white British group. It appears that some black and ethnic minority groups have worse health than others. For example – Surveys showed that Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean people had the poorest health. Indian, East African and Black African people reported the same health as white British and Chinese people reported better health. Patterns of ethnic health inequalities vary from one health condition to the next, they vary across age groups, gender and geographical areas.

There is evidence to suggest that people from minority ethnic groups experience poorer health. Higher rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mental illness were among certain minority groups.

Tables 1 and 2 represent standard mortality rates for men and women of working age from all causes and from specific causes.

Table 1 standard mortality rates for deaths among men aged 20-64 years, by country of birth, England and Wales, 1991-93

| |All causes |Ischaemic |Stroke |Lung cancer |Other cancer |Accidents |Suicide | | | |heart disease | | | |Injuries | | |Total |100 |100 |100 |100 |100 |100 |100 | |Caribbean |89 |60 |169 |59 |89 |121 |59 | |West/South |126 |83 |315 |71 |133 |75 |59 | |African | | | | | | | | |East African |123 |160 |113 |37 |77 |86 |75 | |Indian subcontinent|107 |150 |163 |48 |65 |80 |73 | |Indian |106 |140...
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