“Collateral Damage”

I got a 5 out of 10 on the health equity quiz.  I was most surprised that we are ranked 29th in life expectancy.  I thought that we would be ranked much higher since we are the 2nd wealthiest country in the world according to our GDP.  The thing that made this even more surprising was that a few questions later, I found out that we spend two and a half times as much on healthcare compared to other industrialized countries.  If we’re spending more on healthcare, shouldn’t we have a higher life expectancy than other countries?

Normally, we think that development and urbanization will only benefit a population, but with the Marshallese, development, urbanization and globalization had the opposite effect on them.  The case study that I decided to discuss is “Collateral Damage.”  When the United States entered the Marshall Islands, they completely changed the way of life of the Marshallese.  Before the United States came, the Marshallese lived on naturally grown crops and were spread throughout the islands.  But when the US came, the Marshallese were forced to urbanize and live closer together.  Now, the entire Marshallese culture has changed, along with their health.  The Marshallese are suffering from malnutrition, overcrowding, and poverty.  They are stuck between the influence of the United States, yet still being a developing country.  Because they are caught between two spectrums, Marshallese suffer from third-world diseases such as Tuberculosis and Western diseases such as cardiovascular diseases.  Since the Marshallese are living closer together, bacterial diseases such as Tuberculosis can spread quickly throughout the population.  The factors that have contributed to the Marshallese being more prone to Tuberculosis is their close proximity in the urban environment and their poverty.  When the Marshallese are in poverty, their bodies are in stress and they are more prone to bacterial infections.  Even when the Marshallese move to the United States, they still have higher rates of TB than their non-Marshallese counterparts because poverty still has effects on them.  We assume that development and urbanization helps populations, but without the United States’ intervention, the Marshall Islands would have been much better off.

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  1. Emily Tassoni says:

    “Collateral Damage” shows some of the negative effects on how development and urbanization can have detrimental effects of the local peoples. The most obvious solution is for well developed countries to not try to develop and urbanize already occupied, undeveloped areas. This is an issue that dates all the way back to when Europeans discovered the Americas and tried to develop the land. The Natives were killed through violence and disease and most of their food resources and living spaces were lost to the newcomers. Obviously there is no way to ban countries from obtaining and occupying other lands, so the most realistic solution would be for the developer countries to integrate with the local peoples and adopt some of their cultural habits and to respect their land and resources, not forcing them to change to the new ways against their will. Providing the local peoples with new and improved resources, such as improved medical care, without disrupting their communities is the most ideal situation.
    This would be a combined political and individual solution. The incoming government would have to respect the boundaries of which they cannot infringe on the local peoples, and the individual locals and the newcomers must work together to integrate with each other and learn to live in peace without disturbing each other’s communities.

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