Relationship Between Health and Wealth

Introduction

General statement: Good health is a wish of every human person. After food, clothing, and shelter, many people are concerned about their health. The importance of health care in society is demonstrated by the high budgetary allocation given to health care by many countries. It is also demonstrated by many non-governmental organizations dedicated to health issues. NGO’s such as the World Health Organization, Save the Children, UNICEF, AMREF, Red Cross, and many others are, in one way or the other, involved in promoting health. Ensuring good health has been a perennial challenge in the world. Various approaches including setting up health facilities, health funding, health education, research, and training have been used.

More Specific statement: This essay argues that there is a correlation between wealth and health. It further argues that raising the level of wealth would be a good approach towards attaining sustainable good health.

Thesis Statement: I will base my arguments on a proposition that Wealth is a good indicator of health.

Outline: The relationship between wealth and health is shown by the difference in life expectancy, access to a healthy environment, and health services.

The Scope:

  • Plans are going to argue that Wealthy countries have a higher life expectancy than poor countries
  • Plans are going to argue that Wealthy people have resources to use on health.

Discussion

Wealthy countries have a higher life expectancy than poor countries Argument for

An obvious relationship between wealth and health is a difference in life expectancy between wealthy and poor countries. To show this relationship, I will compare two countries, one in developed countries and the other in developing. Comparing the United States of America and Kenya, a developing country in Africa, there is a great difference in life expectancy. While the USA has a life expectancy of 77.7 years, Kenya has a life expectancy of 54.2 years (Infoplease, 2009, par 3). This is a difference of 23.5 years. The implication of this is that people born in the US expect to live 22.5 years longer than those in Kenya. This difference is not unique to the chosen countries; it is well demonstrated in almost any pair of developed and developing countries. The level of wealth is the immediate explanation for the difference in health expectancy in developed and developed countries (Mc Dowell, 2006, p. 89). Because of the scarcity of resources, countries in developing countries do not invest adequately in health care leading to high mortality rates and low life expectancy (Curtis, 2004, p. 105). In such countries, individuals die of very basic health issues which would be treatable if proper facilities and personnel were available. Poverty in developing countries also leads to poor nutrition and sanitation leading to poor health. Nutrition-related health problems such as Kwashiorkor, Anemia, and other malnutrition problems are common in developing countries. Sanitation-related health problems such as diarrhea and cholera continue to take away thousands of lives in poor countries every year. As compared to developing countries, wealthy countries have better health cares from infancy to old age (Smith & Egger, 1993, p. 76; Wilkinson & Marmot, 2003, p.17). Individuals can access good health care leading to better health.

Counter argument

One may argue low life expectancy in developing countries is a result of factors other than wealth. One may argue, for example, that high mortality rates in Africa are a result of tropical diseases.

Refutation

Tropical diseases such and malarial, Typhoid, and diarrhea indeed lead to many deaths in Africa, but what makes the affected countries fail to counter the health challenges? It is a lack of resources to invest in research, training, medication, health education, and setting up enough health facilities. Most developing countries rely on donor funds and non-governmental organizations to offer health care. Another argument may cite corruption and mismanagement but these factors can not explain a general trend of poor health in poor countries. A wealth of a country has a direct influence on health. From the analysis, the best approach to raise health standards in a country is to raise the general level of wealth. With resources, there would more investment in better health facilities leading to better health standards.

Wealthy have resources to use on health Argument for

Now comparing health standards of individuals in a homogeneous environment, it is clear that there is a correlation between wealth and health. Wealthy people tend to have better health (Chaudhuri, 1989, 78). One of the indicators of health number of years lived. Regardless of the country, wealthy people tend to live longer. There are various valid reasons as to why the wealthy have better health. One of the reasons is dependent on their lifestyle (Michaud & Van Soest, 2008, p. 126). Poor health, either biomedical or holistic has a cause. Some of the causes of poor health include poor nutrition, poor sanitation, exposure to an unhealthy environment, and stress. Considering nutrition, wealthy people can afford better food all their lives. Because of better nutrition children from wealthy families tend to grow stronger and with better immunity. This implies that the children will be less prone to health issues as compared to other children in poor families.

Good sanitation wealthy families contribute to better health standards in wealthy people. Because of their wealth, wealthy people afford a better living environment. For instance, they have their homes spacious places, have better facilities such as enough supply of water, spacious and well-ventilated rooms, and a spacious compound (Hsing, 2004, p. 77; Raphael, 2004, p. 114). This is in contrast to poor people some of whom live in congested places with low sanitation levels.

Apart from better nutrition and sanitation, wealthy people are prone to less life stress than the poor. The level of stress is a major determinant of health. The less the level of stress exposure to a person the higher the level of health standard. Individuals in the working and low class struggle to make ends meet while paying bills for essential commodities is a challenge. This is in contrast to the wealthy that have excess, don’t have to struggle much in life, and afford a break or a good rest. In addition, wealthy people can afford better health care when they need it.

Counter Argument

One may argue that higher life expectancy in wealthy people is not a good indicator of better health. Some may say that wealthy people may live longer because of their ability to afford specialized medical care but at the same lack holistic health.

Refutation

General well-being or holistic life is depended on the kind of life and individual lives (Larson, 1991, p. 83). It is inclusive of social, psychological, and religious aspects of an individual. Considering the wealthy, it is clear that they have many friends, afford social friends and holidays, and thus are happier than the poor. This implies that being wealthy leads to better biomedical and holistic health.

Conclusion

The relationship between wealth and health is a puzzle that challenges many people. However, there is a strong relationship between health and wealth. In the essay, I have shown that wealthy countries have higher living standards than poor countries while wealthy people tend to have better health. Wealth is a good indicator of health. It is evident that wealth guarantees health. A wealth of a nation or an individual determines the standard of health and length of years. From the arguments, it is logical to conclude that raising the level of wealth is an important approach to improve health standards.

Reference List

Chaudhuri, R. 1989. Wealth is Health! Indian Journal of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery Vol. 41 No. 2.

Commers, J 2002, Determinants of health: theory, understanding, portrayal, Policy, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.

Curtis, S. 2004, Health and inequality, SAGE Publications Ltd, London.

Hsing, Y. 2004, Living affinity: nurturing the environment, our relationships and the Life of the spirit, Lantern Books, New York.

Infoplease. 2009. Life Expectancy for countries, Web. 

Larson, S. 1991, the measurement of health: concepts and indicators, Greenwood Press, Westport.

Mc Dowell, T. 2006, Measuring health: a guide to rating scales and questionnaires, 3rd edn., Oxford University Press, New York.

Michaud, P., & Van Soest, A. 2008. Health and Wealth of elderly couples: Causality tests using dynamic panel data models. Journal of Health Economics Vol. 27. No 5.

Smith, D., & Egger, M. 1993. Socio-economical difference in Wealth and health. British Medical Journal Vol. 307 No 7.

Raphael, D. 2004, Social determinants of health: Canadian perspective, Canadian Scholar’s Press Inc., Toronto.

Wilkinson, R & Marmot, M 2003, Social determinants of health: the solid facts, 2nd edn., WHO Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen.