Health is critical for the normal functioning of human beings and hence needs to be managed well so that living is made more comfortable. All over the world, health concerns have risen considerably, mostly because of the fact that managing symptoms has dominated the field only for the disease to come back. Furthermore, there is increasing implication of the iceberg phenomenon when finding out the causes of the medical conditions. This is strongly supported by the realization of the many factors that contribute to the disease occurrence, some of which can barely be linked due to complex relationships. In this regard, it is considered more beneficial to address health condition by a model that seeks to solve the problem from all dimensions including clearing symptoms of the disease, its causes and other complicated impacts that the disease could be having. This is why the concept of holistic health is being promoted. Holistic health is explained as a model of therapy that upholds all the elements of human needs ranging from psychological, social, spiritual, physical and intellectual and is collectively assumed to constitute the overall wellbeing of an individual as a whole. This approach is widely accepted in practice to help in treatment of a variety of illnesses some of which have been considered unmanageable.
Factors Contributing to Health Disparities
Health disparities lead to unequal quality of healthcare access. Many people are discriminated and secluded from the best care (Burden, 2005, p. 190). Despite the fact that healthcare is a fundamental right, many people cannot afford the best care due to some factors that are considered health disparities (Stanley et al 2006, p. 56). Health disparities are actually those factors that often lead to unequal achievement of holistic health.
Disparity in health care especially with reference to holistic health means that there is an element of being unequal in some aspects including ethnicity, sex, race, social status and residence. High holistic health disparities affects equity so much (Donatelle 2006, p.76). For instance, patient receive few medications based on the differences in the causal factors for the illness, personal decisions, systemic blockage in getting the medicines of other combined reasons. When addressing differences in health care for diverse groups of people, it’s often not likely to explain the causal pathways directly (Stanley et al 2006, p. 56). This paper hence explains the differences in quality of medication, accessibility of healthcare in an attempt to explain the factors that bring about these disparities. The disparities are easy to determine when there are clear set standards of what is proper and sensible to obtain (Ring & Firman 1998, p. 529). Whereas there could be many uncertainties concerning many clinical elements of care, the element that deal with quality as a measure, on those developed based on therapeutic interventions with reasonable or evidence based scientific facts of efficiency and for which a professional consensus has been achieved. There should also be great expectation that the service is applicable to all people seeking care (Stanley et al, 2006, p. 56).
In Australia, the major factors that contribute to unequal health service delivery include race gender, culture, social status, employment and education level (Donatelle 2006, p.76). These factors have had a big impact on Australians society in that there are clinically and statistically observable significant inequalities in the results of healthcare delivery or access between socially distinctively susceptible and less susceptible groups of people that do not have any explanations by the effects of the selection partiality(Stanley et al 2006, p. 56). Health disparities are evident in information concerning delivery of healthcare service, access to these services, the selection characteristic of the care provider and even socio-economic status.
This is a major setback in attempting to improve healthcare in Australia. Poverty in many parts of Australia has translated to underutilization of specialist medication services, programs like insurance cover and slowed or obstructed access to better healthcare facilities. The impact of poverty is more severe on children (Stanley et al 2006, p. 58). Their families are unable to access basic care and consequently the children from these families are prone to chronic diseases.
The issue of poverty in Australia is quite complex since it integrates with other factors extensively. For instance, the minority groups including the Torres and Aborigines are also among the poorest communities. This means that as a race, or as the low-income earning group, they are likely to be discriminated against when healthcare programs are being designed (Donatelle 2006, p.78).
Life in poverty-stricken areas is usually not a pleasant one since the children there do not achieve their full potential, as they would have due to the underlying poverty. This is because accessing basic needs is not easy, children suffer malnutrition, and some even get to the extent of dying because of lack of food (Donatelle 2006, p.78). Some families are unable to afford education even at the very basic level of primary education. In this way, child development is adversely affected. Children end up suffering stress, loosing self-esteem and get demoralized (Burden, 2005 p. 190). The outcome of this is failed output in terms of education performance among other achievements necessary for growth.
Overall, it is important to note that the population of Aborigines is slightly over half a million, which is about 2.5% of the total population. Consequently, these groups are also treated as a minority. Aborigines though are considered to be among the original settlers of Australia, they are today the most disadvantaged society (Ring & Firman 1998, p. 531). Due to this level of poverty, they often suffer from social problem than the rest of the communities in Australia. The rates of infant mortality are therefore very high, with many people now getting to drug abuse (Burden 2005, p. 190). There is also high prevalence of illnesses associated with bad living conditions like pneumonia, diarrhoea and scabies. These indigenous people of Australia have a rate of three times more prone to diabetic conditions and are twice prone to cardiovascular diseases at the age of 35 to 45 than the entire population.
The social problems and health entangled together and a greater part of these problems are because of unemployment, imprisonment or poverty from other causes. Again, it’s important to note that the rates of unemployment are greater among Aborigines as they are secluded from opportunities by the virtue of the fact that they are minority (Donatelle 2006 p.78). It is with this regard that the delivery of medical services among these groups still lags behind other Australian communities.
The social inequality is a major problem that heightens the level of poverty in Australia, and it originates from the notion implied by some culture about the relative worth of different classes of people as in ethnicity, sex and social group. The endorsed inequality put people in different social classes at birth mostly based on religion, ethnicity, race and gender. Social inequality describes the gap between the affluent members of the society and the underprivileged (Stanley et al 2006, p. 56). This is one of the major health determinant issue in the world today and has been very significant even more that poverty aspects. As these differences increases, the quality of healthcare services has been observed to decline. Social inequality as a socio-economic problem has been handled by certain policies that have seen some improvements, though, but this has not improved health for early age life for children in a considerable manner (Ring & Firman 1998, p. 532). The trends seen in nations that suffer from poverty, shows that there is an economic gap between the rich and the poor and this is attributed to the poor economic policies and corruption among the government officials. The indigenous people of Australia are still likened to the poor health services in developing nations by policy makers. The government policies play a central role in solving such problems and they have to be practical for them to work out. Social inequality is not entirely in developing countries alone, in the Australia, it is a problem despite the development in modern technology (Stanley et al 2006, p. 59). There are families, which go hungry for a day since they cannot afford food. Most of these families still cannot afford any form of health cover. This is why healthcare programs have been a very big problem for the Australians. On the other hand, families that are rich can easily afford the type of care that they want and children from such families enjoy these benefits. Their early life is better meaning that they have better health condition, they can learn properly as they are not worried (Burden 2005, p. 190). This way they are likely to perform better in school or in other life avenues.
Policy shortfall in Australia is evident in the fact that no considerable action has been taken yet areas like indigenous healthiness and mental health have been identified as being in dire need of urgent action. These facts reveal that the poorest health results, poorest resource allocation and are ranked the least functional groups in the health system of Australia. The social status affects almost every individual. In Australia, people tend to associate with certain classes and adopt certain lifestyles in the end. This has hand mixed impact on health. Among those on the lowest social classes especially the Torres and Aborigines, it has been found that they tend to face the risk of suffering serious sickness at least two times in a week. Such communities also experience immature deaths (Donatelle 2006, p.78). Though not limited to the poor, it is very common among people with low income or no income compared to other social strata.
Employment is usually a sign that a family or an individual is at least earning a living from doing work and usually builds confidence in society to achieve even greater heights of development. In Australia, unemployment is a major cause of severe conditions of poverty. This connection is twisted though poor people can solve unemployment problems and combat poverty at the same time (Burden 2005, p. 193). The unemployed families suffer financial hardships and subsequently psychological problems. They hence also experience anxiety problems and even depression, which could precipitate to heart diseases.
Recent data indicate that many ethnic minorities in Australia and the rest of the world, as well as poor families regardless of their ethnicities and are usually poorer than the majority groups. The gaps between the rich and the poor are always on the increase in Australia. These trends are posing a daunting concern for the policy makers and the Australian health system. Australian studies demonstrate a strong relationship between healthcare and problem of unemployment (Burden 2005, p. 194). This is proven is some specific illnesses among them influenza, diabetes, and pneumonia. Most Depression cases in Australia are now linked with unemployment.
Reducing Health disparities Early Childhood Centres
Social health determinants are very pertinent to the wellbeing of individuals and the way a person lives his or her early life needs to enhance development. During early life, biological development and mental wellbeing is mostly dependent on the quality and type of stimulation that the individual gets (Lu & Halfon, 2003, p.14). This could be at family, society or international level. The early life experiences then form life-long health determinant including even learning ability (Burden, 2005, p. 198). Taken in concert, these elements constitute elements that make childhood a social factor that determine future health of an individual.
Early childhood life is crucial in instilling in children the best attitude to grow up with and thrive in good physical, mental and social condition. As a study of early life, development has indicated that children are able to start creating safe, cohesive and active neighbourhoods for their convenience (Lu & Halfon 2003, p.15). As early as the age of six, children increase their social comparison and begin to appreciate or recognize other people’s perspective of the environment and events and this greatly affects how the child relates to other people and peers (Burden 2005, p. 195). Furthermore, social problems like poverty, diseases, unemployment and insecurity have the greatest impact ion children because they are more susceptible considering that they only rely on their parents.
Research in Australia has revealed that the social disparities facing the process of healthcare are rooted in the experiences of early childhood. According to (Lu & Halfon 2003, p. 16) they include differences in access, expose, family risk, unequal quality, and adverse congenital states. It is also evident that the childhood risks and exposures can results in wide-ranging complications of intellectual, emotional and physical development with reference to health (Burden 2005, p. 195).
The risk for incongruent results excessively affects children, looking at children from poor families and minority groups. Poverty is a major factor that has to be resolve since it combines risks of all races; nonetheless, race and ethnicity are independent factors. In order to be able to alleviate the disparities in health, implementing early life systems for reducing these inequalities is paramount. The following strategies can be applied to childhood centres to assist in alleviating disparities so that health service delivery and access in Australia is enhanced (Lu & Halfon, 2003, p.18). The intention is to improve culture competence and promote community cohesion.
Enhance understanding the real problems: this is where a link is established between early childhood organization progress to the programs and projects that are intended to outdo racism and alleviate poverty. Then this should be done with coordination to the campaign to increased ethic and racial awareness among people, healthcare stakeholders and medical professionals who deal with children regularly (Donatelle 2006, p.78).
Data and monitoring is essential: this include analysing data associated with disparities and accessing healthcare as well as concerning the outcomes. This would include race and ethic measures of performance and monitoring the indicators (Ring & Firman 1998, p. 534). Encourage agencies to use information from past researches to understand racism and ethnicity in Australia. Conducting assessment to find out and measure the unequal treatment.
Improving childhood and family service: this entails adopting tactics to enhance and monitor the ways cultural competency among practitioners and the health services develop or progress. Early childhood learning is integrated with cultural competency (Lu & Halfon 2003, p.19). The use of community practitioners (lay workers) should be used in some instances during early childhood experiences. According to Donatelle (2006, p.78), consistent need to be enhanced and the equity of care stressed by employing evidence-based guiding principles for childhood learning, family support.
Enhancing community support: this will entail helping communities to assess risks and strengths. It would also focus on enhancing service quality that is accessible to low income groups and the one considered a minority (Ring & Firman 1998, p. 535). Incentives can be offered to community projects targeting decreasing disparities and support the local systems dealing with childhood.
A feasible way of dealing with community disparities would be to address disparate risks and situations in healthcare, income and minority groups. Addressing health disparities at the early stages of life has been found to be cost –efficient and it achieves long-term results that enhance healthcare service. Cases of mortality, disability and chronic disease are reduced considerably. Solving problem about children affected by racism, discrimination and poverty is very complicated; this is why holistic approach is essential for doing this job. The interconnected ways are efficient in dealing with this situation. It is very hard to solve a problem caused by a certain element without addressing other related elements as well.
It is the duty of Australians beings to ensure that the next generation with thrives well. In the same spirit, the international community influences by the process of poverty eradication and enhancement of healthcare in early life for every child regardless of the community they thrive. The Governments can work hard to inspire even greater changes. The WHO and other organization are constantly monitoring the early life development in various nations to make international comparisons to identify the glaring variations in these patterns across nations. The data is considered immensely useful in determining society capacity and creating strategic policies and leading advocacy.
- Burden, J. (2005). Health: A Holistic Approach In Aboriginal Australia: An Introductory Reader in Aboriginal Studies .Unala: University Of Queensland Press.
- Donatelle, R. (2006). Access to Health (9th Ed.). San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings
- Lu, M., & Halfon, N. (2003). Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Birth Outcomes: A Life Course Perspective. Maternal and Child Health Journal 7(1), 13-30.
- Ring, I., & Firman, D. (1998). Reducing Indigenous Mortality in Australia: Lessons from Other Countries. Med J Aust (169), 528-33.
- Stanley, G., Looper, L., & Oldenburg, B. (2006). Health Inequalities in Australia: Morbidity, Health Behaviours, Risk Factors and Health Service Use. Health Inequalities Monitoring (2) 72.