I didn’t do very well on the Health Equity Quiz, scoring a low 3 out of 10. I was surprised to find out that the United States is in 29th place in terms of life expectancy in the world. At the very least I expected us to be in the top 10. I’m also surprised that other countries have surpassed us in longevity over the last 60 years, and that we even used to be in the top 5.
One of the three case studies that I watched was a video titled Collateral Damage. It was about the people of the Marshall Islands on the small islet of Ebeye. In this small one by one eighth of a mile islet, there are over 10,000 people who live there, which is very many for such a small area. The greatest issue here it seems, is that people don’t have the money to pay for treatment of health issues, most predominantly tuberculosis. There was also a big conflict in which the United States military moved Marshallese people off of their islands to different islands. As mentioned in the video, this may have affected people’s susceptibility to tuberculosis by causing stress, which could weaken their immune system’s ability to control infection.
The case of the tuberculosis epidemic in the Marshall Islands is based mainly on the dense population of the people on the island and lack of access to health care. The doctor from the video, Rihna James, clearly cares about the lives of these people, and travels to their homes to administer proper treatment. She does this because it can be difficult for many of the Marshallese people to traditional hospital treatment.
There are probably not very many genetic factors involved in the spread of the disease, but rather it is the dense population of the island that allows infection to spread so easily. For many people around the world, it may be a combination of an acquired immunity and access to treatment that prevents most people from experiencing symptoms of the infection. According to the WHO, about 1/3 of the Earth’s population is already infected with tuberculosis, but most the infected people have the capability to keep the infection latent in their lungs.