When I think of social determinants of health I imagine all the factors that influence health rather positive or negative in our day-to-day lives. It’s hard to first understand the concept of social determinants of health when you don’t know what determinants of health are. According to the center for disease control and prevention, determinants of health are “factors that contribute to a person’s current state of health. These factors may be biological, socioeconomic, psychosocial, behavioral, or social in nature. Scientists generally recognize five determinants of health of a population, which are: biology and genetics, individual behavior, social environment, physical environment, and health services”(social determinants of health. 2014). This to me means the day-to-day factors that influence our lives for the better. Rather it be sex and age, drug use, or even as simple as our growing through education. These are all factors that keep a population thriving. On the opposite end according to the center for disease control and prevention, social determinants of health are “the complex, integrated, and overlapping social structures and economic systems that are responsible for most health inequities. These social structures and economic systems include the social environment, physical environment, health services, and structural and societal factors. Social determinants of health are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and resources throughout local communities, nations, and the world”(social determinants of health. 2014). Social determinants of health are what could be considered, beyond what a person can individually do to ones own health. That is, they are factors that are influenced from society not just individual behavior, which can have positive or adverse affects on health. Examples of social determinants of health include but are not limited to factors in educations, income, and even sex or gender. Though every country experiences social determinants of health, income seems to play the biggest role in societal growth. Compared to the United States where people are placed in classes based off of income, In Ethiopia, “The strongest determinants of adolescent health worldwide are structural factors such as national wealth, income inequality, and access to education”(Hurst, E. 2012). I chose to more so focus on adolescent health of Ethiopians in this blog, because the adolescents are the future of Ethiopia. How they develop and grow will one day affect the Ethiopian population and change lives in general. According to the journal of Pediatrics and Child Health, “social determinants play a critical role in the early phases of conception, pregnancy and post-natal periods of children’s development. Sensitive periods in brain and biological development start prenatally and continue throughout childhood and adolescence. The extent to which these processes lead to healthy development depends upon the qualities of stimulation, support, and nurturance in the social environments in which children live, learn and grow”(The social determinants of early child development: An overview. 2010). In the United States there are services readily available for people to use, if they are in distress and or ill. Adversely in Ethiopia, the best way for young adolescents and even young adults moving into adulthood to deal with problems are “safe and supportive families, safe and supportive schools, together with positive and supportive peers are crucial to helping young people develop to their full potential and attain the best health in the transition to adulthood”(Hurst, E. 2012). This is very important to know, because most people I know live in the United States and don’t understand how privileged they are. Many people would kill to have what Americans have. We should all take these factors into consideration and be thankful for what we do have.
Hurst, E. (2012). Adolescence and the social determinants of health. The Lancet, 379(9826), 1641-1652. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60149-4
Social Determinants of Health. (2014, March 21). Retrieved August 13, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/socialdeterminants/definitions.html
The social determinants of early child development: An overview. (2010). Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health,46(11), 627–635-627–635. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1754.2010.01817.x