There are many factors that affect health and disease in Malaysia whether individually or in population as a whole. According to The Star Online, the social determinants factor that affect health in Malaysia are environmental exposure, housing, education, social and economic status (The Star Online 2015). Nevertheless. Through the reading provided in Week Six section, I discovered that the social determinants that I would like to focus on which affect depression mental illness in Malaysia are income and socioeconomics. However, all the social determinant factors that have been listed by World Health Organization, which are: health determinants in early childhood, poverty, social support, healthy food, and transportation are also matters in determining health in a population (Wilkinson & Marmot 2003). For instance, given in the book “Social Determinants of Health. The Solid Facts” (Wilkinson & Marmot 2003):
“It is not simply that poor material circumstances are harmful to health; the social meaning of being poor, unemployed, socially excluded, or otherwise stigmatized also matters. As social beings, we need to feel valued and appreciated.”
“Without these we become more prone to depression….”
This explanation proved that even minor social determinants factor can lead to depression.
Moving on to the first point which is income, the World Bank estimated that Malaysia’s gross national income (GNI) per capita will pass the high-income threshold of 12, 236 USD in between 2020 and 2025. However, there are still more than half of Malaysian will be earning less than 12, 236 USD because the country distribution of income is skewed towards the rich (Samantha Ho 2017). In addition, the World Bank director for Malaysia, Thailand and regional partnership, Dr Ulrich Zanchau pointed that “the poorest 10 percent of Malaysians spend almost 70 percent of their income on food and housing alone” (Samantha Ho 2017). Plus, the mental healthcare treatment costs are also expensive, this means that the increases in the cost of living, the less income, and the cost of mental healthcare affect the depression among Malaysians.
Moving to the second point of social determinants of health, the socioeconomic. According to researchers, individuals with better socioeconomic position enjoy better quality of lifestyles, healthcare services, as well as have better health status. In contrast, individuals with lower socioeconomic position have lower quality of life, less access to healthcare, and thus have lower levels of overall health (Vivien & Noor Azlan 2014). In understanding the socioeconomic factor that affect health and illness, the researcher related the socioeconomic with income (as mentioned in first point) and education. People with less educational level tends to have poorer healthcare. For instance, they will look on depression matter as a small health problem meanwhile the person with higher education tends to buy a better medicine or get a better treatment (Vivien & Noor Azlan 2014). Furthermore, higher education level also leads one’s to secure a better job and have a good socioeconomic level.
There are more other studies that support on the income and socioeconomic as the major social determinants of health in Malaysia. The minor social determinants give impacts to one’s health as well just like mentioned by WHO and other sources. Therefore, the government should focus on all aspects in other to help people in mental healthcare especially depression in Malaysia.
Samantha Ho. (2017). Most Malaysians Still Earn Below Average Incomes. The Edge Markets. Retrieved from http://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/most-malaysians-still-earn-below-average-incomes
The Star Online. (2015). Focus More on Social Determinants of Health. The Star Online. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/letters/2015/04/14/focus-more-on-social-determinants-of-health/
Vivien Yew Wong Chin & Noor Azlan Mohd Noor. (2014). Social Determinants of Health and Illness. A Theoretical Inquiry. Malaysian Journal of Society and Space. Retrieved from http://www.ukm.my/geografia/images/upload/5ok.geografia-jan-2014-vivien-edam.pdf
Wilkinson R. G. & Marmot M. (2003). Social Determinants of Health: The Solid Facts. World Health Organization. Retrieved from http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us18/files/2015/05/Soc-Determs-of-Hlth-the-solid-facts-WHO-2003.pdf