The Social Determinants of Health and Equity

Camara Jones, MD, MPH, PhD is the current president of the American Public Health Association (APHA). She (co)authored the two articles that you will be writing about. These articles are available on Canvas, in the Modules and Files section. She helps provide insightful views on the social determinants health and equity. Your job is to write an essay discussing the main ideas of the articles and providing your viewpoints.


Provide a summary of the main ideas of the two articles from Dr. Jones and have supporting details. Use excerpts from the articles when explaining the main ideas. Use the documentary “Unnatural Causes: In Sickness and In Wealth” to help illustrate the main ideas. Pick two individuals that the documentary focused on. Analyze and explain how these two persons relate to the constructs noted in the two articles. Also, provide 1 example from your own personal experience that relates to the main ideas and explain how the articles have changed your perspectives regarding the issues noted. It may not have changed your perspectives. Explain why.

The disparities in access and provision of health care services are proportional to lack of equity that is derived from socioeconomic status derived from societal problems such as racism and poverty. Jones (2000) notes that the race-associated differences in provision and access of health care are often documented but never explained. Scholars who note the disparities tend to ignore them and adapt to focusing on one racial group. Unfortunately, the continued adjustment makes the problem of racism seem acceptable and limit the chances of prevention. The use of the word ‘race’ should reflect the genetic and cultural differences between individuals. Instead, it has been used to refer to the social classification of individuals based on their socioeconomic status. Hence, racism has become a determining factor in the health outcomes. Similarly, Camara, Clara, Geraldine, Gillian, and Camille (2009) use the cliff analogy to explain the same issue of the social determinants of heath and equity. In fact, the authors outline poverty as one of the major determinants of health and racism as of the social determinants of equity. Therefore, both articles have a similar approach to the problem of health disparities, and identify both poverty and racism as the most significant factors affecting the provision and access to health care services.

The cliff analogy is used to represent the possible interventions that can be implemented in the health care system to prevent people from fall off the ‘cliff’ of good health (Camara et al., 2009). It symbolizes the various levels of health intervention that can be useful to policy makers when distributing resources. Essentially, it is a measure of implementation to eliminate the issue of health disparities that are related to both poverty and racism. A good example given in the article relates to infant mortality. The most severe stage in the cliff, represented by an ambulance, is the neonatal intensive care units, the next level is the prenatal care, symbolized by the trampoline, the nutritional supplementation programs for infants are represented by the fence, and the movement of people away from the cliff represent the poverty reduction initiatives to reduce the stress in the community. Therefore, the cliff analogy illustrates three dimensions that can be used in health intervention to help people attain good health irrespective of some of the differences that exist. The three dimensions addressed include the provision of health services, social determinants of health, and social determinants of equity. Besides, children do not choose where they are born, and their birth place or socioeconomic situation should not come as a disadvantage in accessing health care services. Racial discrimination is a subject that demands a lot of attention in the society. Jones (2000) describes racial discrimination as a part of the society that has been ignored. Many believe that racial discrimination is a problem caused by the majority and never struggle to change the existing social settings. In the documentary Unnatural causes: In sickness and in wealth, the dark side of institutionalized racism is explored. Racism does not create constructive division in the society but rather establishes a system that denies many the opportunities to lead normal lives. It all amounts to a negative upshot in the society degrading the quality of life and establishing limits to what humanity can achieve. Camara et al. (2009) describe poverty as an issue that sucks life out of a society and denies the deprived a chance to establish change and lead healthy lives…

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