Bad Sugar

I got an 8/10 on the Health Equity Quiz. I took History of American and European Healthcare (HST 425) in the previous summer session, and that helped a lot with most of the questions. I was most surprised that recent Latino immigrants have the best overall health in the United States. I expected first generation immigrants to have lower overall health than U.S. citizens, or even second and third generation immigrants.

The case study that I am going to talk about is the Pima Indians and their water supply. Starting in the 1890s, irrigation projects on the Gila River upstream of the Pima Indians developed extensively. This brought a reliable water supply to the white farmers and ranchers upstream, and was quite beneficial for them. However, these projects caused the Gila River to drastically diminish downstream, severely crippling the Pima Indians who relied on the river to grow their own food. Winters v. United States did little to help the Pima Indians in 1908. With the Coolidge dam in 1930, the Pima Indian’s water supply increased somewhat, but not nearly as much as what was needed. It would not be until the Arizona Water Settlements Act of 2004 that the Pima Indians would gain water rights significant enough to bring a difference.

There are a lot of ways in which politics and economics can influence the development and spread of treatments and medical improvements. The most significant is the financial cost of expanding infrastructure to support new treatments or to supply medicine, in my opinion at least. For example, an area with a high rate of poverty is unlikely to have many hospitals or physicians. Caring for the poor does not generally pay well, and for many in the medical field money is the bottom line. The environment can also have a drastic effect on one’s health. In the case of the Pima Indians, the loss of their primary source of water dealt a huge blow to their health. Without water, the Pima were unable to sustain themselves with their own crops, and many had to subsist on government surplus, which was generally not very healthy.

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