Minority Health and Infant Mortality

Literature Review

The United States has a large cultural diversity that calls for special attention for minority health. Minority health is referred to all the special health particularly medical needs that are associated with the various minority ethnic and racial groups in the United States. Specific health issues have become largely limited to the minority groups. This has raised a red flag leading to extensive research to ascertain the predisposing factors. Infant mortality rates are a major health need among the Hispanic, Native Americans and to a smaller extent, the African Americans. In recent years, policymakers have asserted that the compromised health among the minorities is partly due to decreased accessibility to medical care coupled with poor quality primary care. Also, the rate of unemployment and rise in poverty levels among the minority groups has exacerbated their health status.

The infant mortality rates are utilized by the world health organization and the signatories as indicators of the wellbeing of a country (Anonymous, 2007, p.7). The rates are vital in provision of accurate information pertaining to pregnancies, procedures during birth and care of mother and the infants. Variations in the infant mortality rates exist across the various races and ethnic groups. African Americans recorded 14.1 deaths compared to a national average of 6.9 deaths per 1000 live births in 2000.

Braveman et al (2010, p.186) noted that the collection of health data based on social classes is the norm in the European countries since the early 20th century. The utilization of the distinct social groups has allowed the comparative analysis of the information with a view of guiding the policy formulation. This has resulted in the easier comparisons of parameters across the social groups in order to put the mitigation procedures in place. That the united states utilized race as the base of collecting health data made researchers to start incorporating the social economic status in the statistics. The inadequacy in the relation of social economic status and health had negative implications in the United States. The predisposing factors to ill health such as housing and poverty are missed. Policy matters to address these factors are not initiated thus perpetuating the inequalities.

Low social economic status, increased disability levels and membership to a particular minority group are intertwined and are responsible for increased mortalities among minority groups. Furthermore, unemployment and poverty increases the risk of acquiring injury or illness. Poverty combined with inadequacy in the social amenities exacerbates the situation (Mwacholi and Broyles, 2008, p.37). It is therefore paramount to direct policy changes towards the reduction of the health disparities exemplified by the economic status, limitations in physical activity and membership to specific minority groups.

This research paper aims to identify the health disparities that exist among the various cultural grouping, the role they play in fostering minority health and in particular infant mortality due to the social economic factors in the United States. The social economic status and levels of poverty were also used to describe the various aspects of the health indicators especially across the various cultural groups.

Methods

The research study delved on the health disparities among the different groups living in the United States. In particular, the effects of low social economic status and poverty in influencing the infant mortality rates in the different cultural groups. Literature review of previous research studies on infant mortality and social economic disparities were utilized. The review was undertaken on previous studies done in the United States only.

Infant mortality was found to be high in the least educated and the low income members of the society. In the general population, infant mortality rate was found to have declined in the past decades with 2006 results indicating 6.4 deaths per 1,000 live births as compared to 1980’s rate of 12.6 deaths per 1,000 live births. The rate of pre-term infant mortality rates had increased in the past five years from 34.5% in 1999 to 36.15 in 2004 (Anonymous, 2007, p.7). The rate for non-hispanic black infants was found to be more than three times that on non-hispanic white infants.

In a related study, the researchers intended to give a description on the socioeconomic disparities in the US across multiple health indicators and the social economic groups. They examined the indicator rates across various income or education categories in general and across the racial and ethnic groups. It was found out that those of lower income category and were less educated were less healthy. Also, the intermediate level was less healthy in comparison to the wealthy and more educated category. This study concluded that health patterns were greatly influenced by the social economic status and a link existed between the hierarchies of social advantage and the health (Braveman et al, 2010, p.192).

Discussion

The social economic status of the population in the US is a determinant of their health status. There exists a wide disparity among US citizens on their income and accumulative wealth. The wealthy are inhabitants of larger cities where the social amenities are widely available. The hospitals with specialized facilities are accessible and they have the financial power to access these services. These factors combined with improved sanitation in the larger cities predisposes them to a healthy living condition thus the occurrence of diseases which are prevent able is reduced significantly. On the other hand, the poor or the people of low economic status have increased risks to diseases and injuries. This group faces low employment which leads to increased poverty levels amongst them. They have low living standards hence being faced with poor housing, malnutrition and inadequate sanitation. In addition, access to efficient medical care is a challenge due to their compromised financial status. These factors have predisposed them to increased risk to health problems.

Conclusion and implications

There exist social economic disparities across the US. However, there is a lack of timely and regularly information which is reported to shed light on the social and economic differences in acquisition of health care. There is an increased need to define the economic disparities and their influence on the health of the citizens. By so doing, the government and the policy makers will understand the gravity of the problem and they will design the best approaches to solving them. An equitable health care distribution should be advocated for. This will mean formulation of policies that ensures more health resources are diverted towards catering for the health needs of the low social class as compared to the wealthy citizens. This will involve the government subsidizing the health care of the poor, improvement their housing and environmental sanitation (Braveman et al, 2010, p.196). When this is done there will be general improvement of Americans’ health status as there will be declined disabilities and limitations due to health problems. On the other hand failure to ensure equitable distribution of health care will lead to increased levels of disease burden among the less privileged in the society and consequently the government spending a lot of its budget on curative services whereas the health issues could have been prevented.

Reference List

Anonymous (2007). Infant Mortality Rates and Our Nation’s Health. Pediatrics for Braveman, P. et al. (2010). Socioeconomic Disparities in Health in the United

Mwacholi, A., & Broyles, R. (2008). Is Minority Status a More Consistent Parents Volume, 23 (6): 7.

Predictor of Disability Than Socioeconomic Status? Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 19(1): 34-44.

States: What the Pattern Tell Us. American Journal of Public Health, 100(1): 186-197.