Humans are mortal beings, therefore with life comes death; this is a certainty. What is not so certain is the quality of life which one will lead thereto; and the variances they will face in life which will underwrite a person’s health. Health, which can be measured, regulates the quality and longevity of people’s lives. People have long since philosophised that it is “luck of the draw” as to who are inflicted with illness or disease. In fact, through research and consensus reports, analysis has concluded that social, economic and environmental influences are contributing factors. This essay will explore some of the main issues regarding health and consequences of lifestyle choices. Furthermore, recognition and critique will be focused on the principal reports and recommendations therein regarding health inequalities.
‘Health’ is the ‘absence of disease’ within the physical and mental entities of the body and mind. This is a definition given in the literal sense of the word, although what it essentially translates to for one individual may not mean the same to another. A person can be unhealthy or lead an unhealthy lifestyle without the affliction of disease. Kathryn Mansfield has a subjective view and her account is relatively holistic and all-encompassing of her potential, as a person in body and mind, “By health, I mean the power to live a full adult, living, breathing life in close contact with what I love. I want to be all that I am capable of becoming.”
An individual’s standard of living can affect the levels of their body functions; possibly slowing down metabolism and ultimately it can have negative effects on morbidity* and mortality** rates. It is important during the study of health inequalities that these statistics are collated and scrutinised to determine where inequalities exist and how they can be tackled.
In 1980, Sir Douglas Black attempted to do just that. He published a report under a newly appointed Conservative government. Its aim was improve the nation’s health. It is important to note that this report was issued over a bank holiday period, in order to suppress any potentially unwelcomed impact, thus avoiding public criticism. Nonetheless, Black’s research and findings, conducted in the late 1970s, did reveal interesting inequalities. He analysed data from across Britain, regarding morbidity, mortality, social class and environment to determine any emerging patterns within the population’s health. Within his report he verified that the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), since its introduction in 1948, had accomplished a good standard of free† healthcare available to all. He publicised that the NHS had affected big improvements in infant mortality; helped to achieve an increase in life expectancy; and addressed inequalities in the use of medical services. However, further analysis proved that the steady rate of progression was not applicable to all social classes. Black fundamentally exposed strong...