- Ronald M. Verano
Health is very important in every human being. In every nation, private and non-private sectors put extensive efforts to maintain the welfare of the community. They have critically planned strategies to address a health issue or problem. Strategies can be health interventions or policies. Policies takes a longer period of time to be formulated and adapted to the society. There are heaps of factors that can make an impact, directly or indirectly, to the policy-making procedures.
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New Zealand has prioritize health over the past several years. They have been formulating policies to maintain and promote health among New Zealanders and policies to address the health issue the country is still facing. There are several factors that go all together to affect the health of the community. Such factors include, the places where they live, their environment they are used to, it could also be their genetics, income, employment and even their relationship with their families and friends. These factors that affect the individual’s health are called determinants.
Demographic Distribution of Population
A country consists of urban and rural areas. These areas differ from each other in terms of the community, environment and certain situations about health. In urban areas, most people are modernized than that of the rural. Urban is also considered the cities where lots of buildings and facilities are being established. People in terms of availability of healthcare facilities such as clinics and hospitals are most likely to access and are privileged to obtain medical help. On one hand, rural areas which are known to be in the countryside or provincial areas, where buildings and facilities are less likely to be seen, have poor access to health. Sometimes they even seek medical help if their condition is already worst and fatal. Hospitals are not accessible that could resort people to choose not to seek medical help. There is disparity between the urban and rural when it comes to healthcare access and distribution. Aside from the facilities, there is lack of resources in rural areas, such resources include medicines, diagnostics, and even health care providers.
Political values make how people think and react to information. These people are encouraged to see the credibility of the message of such information according to the beliefs and values instilled to them. Some messages can convey a threat to these people that is why they become resistant to the policies and advocacy being presented to them. This can make them not interested with the policy and thus participation is not possible. Health communication messages, such as advocacies and policies, may trigger a person to react positively and negatively to it. Policies that are against one’s belief can lead to resistance of the individual, especially to those people who value their beliefs in a higher state. This can influence the process of policy in the making. Government agencies should also partake in addressing this problem. Government officials are representatives of the people and people chose them to lead them. These officials should be fair and honest, they should focused on issues affecting the people, health being one of the priorities of the nation.
Similar with political values, religions instill beliefs that make a person’s being. Religious beliefs guide people of what is right and wrong, of what to do and not to do. For instance in some countries, there is an issue of overpopulation. Other problems can occur such as abortion. In order for the government to solve this problem they resort to a policy which highly favors contraception. As some religions are pro-life, they believe the policy will be against to their belief, chances are they would oppose to the policy making it possible to happen.
Human values include compassion, respect for others, commitment, etc. These human values shape the person’s perception towards health. If people are being committed to stay and become healthy, then policies pertaining to health are of their interest. But some people, although they are concern about their health, lacks the discipline to stay healthy. And still believe that health is being free from any illness.
Ethnicity and traditions
Ethnicity is the person’s identity. It also involves beliefs and traditions that one belongs to. Same way with the religious beliefs and human values of an individual. If an individual has his own set of values to guide them. If a policy is believed to be against their practices and traditions, they will oppose eventually.
The concept of public to health
Health as perceived by many people is the absence of a disease. Many people think that they are healthy because they don’t feel any pain or discomfort or simply physical symptoms. But health is not just the absence of any pain or discomfort or disease, it is more than that. This is the common misconception of mostly people. Health is the complete condition of physical, emotional, intellectual and mental being of a person. This attitudes could affect the process of policy in the making. In the planning phase, for instance, obtaining information would be very difficult to accomplish if people will not engage or participate. Same thing with the implementation phase, there is a need for people to participate. If their perception of themselves are healthy even though they are not, they won’t be participating in those activities because they think the policies are not for them.
The concept of public to illness
Illness is viewed in different ways. It is the own feeling perceive by a person. It is the judgement of the person to its body if he feels healthy or unhealthy. Some people think they are healthy being free from a physical illness. For example, a person who is deemed fit, has no illness at all but is suffering from depression. He can deny that he is not ill but the fact that he is suffering mentally or emotionally cannot be taken for granted. People need to understand that illness is not just a symptom of a physical discomfort or pain felt in some parts of the body. Illness is associated with mental, emotional and intellectual being.
Importance the public on health
It is very important for people to value their health. Health reflects the condition of the nation. It is similar to a family is considered healthy if all of its members are healthy. A country is considered healthy if the larger proportion of its society are healthy. If majority of the society neglects the importance of health to them, then active participation in promoting health and preventing diseases from spreading will not be accomplish. People need to have awareness, creating awareness will help people engage to activities and eventually in the policies. It is important to know that they have an idea of what health and illness is about. That these two will affect their well-being.
Public Attitudes towards health and medical professionals
Attitudes reflects the way people behave. It would depend on their beliefs being instilled to them. It is similar to children learn how to read in a different way while they were in school. Attitudes make a person who he is. When it comes to health, they view it in a different manner. For example, issues on obesity. Some obese people are aware the complications they might have of being obese, others believe it is beauty because they were used to their customs that being overweight is attractive, without knowing the complications they might acquire due to being obese. On a lighter side, there are people who values their health and has the discipline of maintaining a healthy state.
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Meanwhile, people have also different views and perception about health and medical professionals. Some may fear them thinking that seeking medical help will only worsen their condition. Some may have the impression that these professionals aren’t competent enough that they would choose not to ask for help. Culture, norms and beliefs has also something to do with their attitudes towards these health care providers.
There are many factors that may influence, directly or indirectly, the process of policy-making, particularly in New Zealand context. New Zealand has focused their policies in maintaining the healthy state of its members of the society and has made efforts in acquiring such improvements over the years. But still, there are factors to consider that could influence the policy-making procedures in either positive or negative manner. Such factors are identified as social, economic and personal. What is important is that the government and non-government sectors takes part on recognizing these factors and tries to address and resolve the issue.
Most New Zealanders have originated from different cultures. Cultures have distinct beliefs and practices, this make a person belong to a certain culture. A lot of times, policies are intended for most people but not all of them will have the chance to benefit on the policy. There are policies that are not culturally intended which makes other cultures to adapt easily, or others to totally adapt at all. There is also racial discrimination among these cultures therefore fair access to health is not feasible. In addition, people with higher status in life are most likely to access health services and facilities than that of the poorer ones. Thus policies should be customized with every individual regardless of his status in the society.
Poverty has also a greater impact on health policy-making. Poverty can be associated with many things such as lack of participation of people, lack of awareness when an epidemic is present in the community. People don’t have the enough resources to afford their needs, not enough money to purchase medicines in case they get sick. For example, a policy involving contraception will not be effective on people living in poorer areas, because they can’t afford to purchase pills that can be a bit expensive or that their health centres don’t have enough supplies to give to these people.
Awareness to people is important. It can make the person acquire knowledge on his environment. A clear example of this is when an outbreak strikes, people can help in preventing this if they are aware of the disease that has infected them, its cause and the measures needed to confine and reduce the spread of this disease. In contrast, people who are not keen on the disease may even help to spread the disease. Although efforts have been made, with people who are not knowledgeable enough would worsen the situation.
In conclusion, all of these factors are not to be taken for granted. This can influence the effectiveness of the whole process of making such policies in a positive or negative way. The goal here is to acknowledge these factors, find solutions to address them in order for policies to become adaptive to the society. Each country must have a government sector and its society that will work hand in hand to maintain the optimum level of each individual’s well-being. They should both aim for the good of its people. Policies are made to guide the people, to give them a sense of a unified direction. Policies are also made to address an existing problem. Its effectiveness will depend on the belief that is instilled in him. People usually make a reaction message the way he perceives it. It is the values that makes the person to accept or resist the policy that is to be implemented.
World Health Organization (2014). Determinants of Health. Health Impact Assessment. Retrieved December 3, 2014 from http://www.who.int/hia/evidence/doh/en/
J. Capella et.al. (2014). Political Values Influence People’s Response to Health Disparity Message. Press Releases. Retrieved December 3, 2014 from https://www.asc.upenn.edu/news-events/press-releases/political-values-influence-peoples-response-health-disparities-messages
Egton Medical Information System Limited (2014). Ethnic Matters. Professional References. Retrieved December 2, 2014 from http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/ethnic-matters
Oxford University Press (2014). Definition: Attitude. British and World English. Retrieved December 3, 2014 from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/attitude
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