Collateral Damage

On the Health Equity Quiz I received a 4/10. I was really surprised about the life expectancy in the US; I expected it to be in the top 10 because our country is wealthier and has more access to top of the line health care so I was surprised to learn we are in 29th place. Even countries that are significantly poorer than the US (such as Greece and Costa Rica) have a higher life expectancy.

The video I chose to summarize was Collateral Damage. The main focus of this video was discussing the Tuberculosis problem in the Marshall Islands. Tuberculosis is a commonly found in high poverty areas and is a huge problem in all of these islands except one,  the exception is an island that hosts a US naval base. I was shocked to see the dramatic differences between the island that hosts the naval base and the other islands that most of the Marshall natives inhabit. This illness became such a problem because it can be brought on simply by the stresses of living in poverty and then can spread easily because the islands are extremely crowded with up to 20 people living in one house (one of the tiny islands contains a higher population  than Manhattan) and many of these houses do not have a bathroom, there are bath houses where each family has their own toilet but no sink is located there so it is expected that they find other methods and locations to wash their hands). Also it is considered an embarrassment to have tuberculosis among the people of the Marshall Islands so many don’t seek medical treatment and others can’t because they have no transportation and the treatment includes daily dosages for 6 months. There are many non-genetic factors that can explain this mass outbreak of tuberculosis. A main cause is actually the US naval base. This base attracts a lot of people who wish to find employment on the naval base but even if they do find employment they cannot live on the island that hosts the naval base itself. This causes the closet island to the naval base to be heavily crowded increasing the spread of tuberculosis and other illnesses. Another contribution to this crowding is that the naval base cleared people off other islands in the 50’s and moved them onto already overly crowded islands so that they could perform nuclear bomb testing.

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  1. Alexis Rife says:

    A possible solution to this problem could be to improve health and living conditions as much as possible. It would be most realistic to work on increasing the health conditions in the immediate area. Improving living conditions would also be ideal, but in an overcrowded population, people living in homes with 20 other people will have nowhere else to go anyway. Any major improvements would likely be up to the locals and especially the local doctors. Installing some sort of wash basins or water pumps near the bath houses would dramatically increase health by ridding the people of dangerous germs and bacteria, like E. coli, that can deteriorate their immune systems. It may also be beneficial to establish a communal health clinic and promote the goodness of such an establishment. If, in the eyes of current local society, having tuberculosis is an embarrassment, then it would be up to the society as a whole to demolish that belief and promote better health for the population. This solution is mainly individual in nature because it leaves the locals’ fates in their own hands. It is up to them to promote and establish better health conditions for themselves, though I’m sure a little prodding by seasoned health officials may be necessary. This may be the best way to improve the problem of tuberculosis since the locals may be wary of outsiders trying to help or they may have too much pride to let them help.

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