Assessing Health Care

By Alex Jackson

What is Health?

“Health is a state of complete physical and social well being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity“

  • World Health Organisation, 1946

How Can We Assess Health?

We can look at:

  • Mortality
  • Crude Death Rate
  • Infant Mortality Rate
  • Morbidity1
  • Attack Rates 2
  • Case mortality rates 3

Factors Effecting Mortality & Morbidity

  • Health care provisions, such as the number of people per doctor. When there’s fewer people per doctor health care can be far better. In addition, the availability of health care can effect mortality/morbidity rates. The USA requires people to pay for their healthcare whereas the UK offers it for free, which allows more people to access health care.
  • Economic development: MEDCs have access to better medical technologies such as MRI scanners making diagnosing and curing diseases far easier and more likely. In addition, if the country has more money, they can spend more money on health care provisions.
  • Education: People can be educated about healthy eating & lifestyles. They can also gain knowledge of basic hygiene, contraception and caring of children. A good education system also provides people with the opportunity to become doctors & nurses.
  • Age: The young and old are highly susceptible to disease and the older someone is, the more likely they are to die. In areas with a high percentage of elderly people, there will be a higher death rate.
  • Food & water supply: Access to clean water and nutritious food help prevent the spread of disease and malnutrition. Malnutrition is also an issue in MEDCs due to a shortage of people eating nutritious, healthy food either out of choice or due to the higher cost of healthy food.
  • Climate: Climate can help spread disease in warm areas or can act as a vector for diseases by providing a climate suitable for creatures that spread disease. The very hot or very cold climates can also trigger asthma and heart attacks.
  • War & Conflict: Obviously increases death rate but war can also impact food supplies and increase morbidity due to malnutrition.
  • Affluence: More affluent individuals have access to more nutritious food and better health care simply because they have more money.
  • Culture: Attitudes towards women and the elderly can effect health care. In Afghanistan, for example, women can not be seen by male doctors and could not be educated to become nurses, totally eliminating any health care available for them. Traditional foods eaten in many mediterranean countries can help to increase life expectancy.
  • Lifestyle: Whether/how much people drink, smoke, exercise or eat healthy foods can effect mortality and morbidity.

  1. The number of incidences of disease, not death

  2. The number of cases of a disease diagnosed in an area divided by the total population over a period of time in an epidemic.

  3. The number of people dying from a specific disease divided by the number of people contracting a disease.