Important Social Determinants of Aboriginal Health
Aboriginal health is derived from the aboriginal people living in Canada, and in the United States. The tribe is indigenous from Australia and has a complete living style as compared to other people across the world. Aboriginal people have a distinguished culture, ways of life, language, beliefs or understanding, art and use these distinctive features as an identity in Canada. Aboriginal term is used to refer the indigenous tribes in North America comprised of Indians, Metis and Inuit who are the inhabitants of Canada (Beavon& Voyageur 2005). Aboriginal people have many social problems that contribute to health and other social complications. Aboriginal health is a term that is used to refer to offering health services to people as they live and conduct themselves.
Since health issues are very important to deal with, it is the accountability of every citizen to seek medical attention or services whenever he or she feels that the body is not functioning well. There are different diseases and infections that require early treatment to prevent future damages and progression to chronic conditions. Many diseases and sickness are related to lifestyle and living conditions of the people and it is a must of the government to address the living conditions and environment of its citizens to minimize the infections (Cardinal, 2004). Although the state can educate, sensitize and inform its people on the importance of good living conditions and living environments, it is the decision of the people whether to follow the advice and precautions.
Cultural barrier is a major problem for the aboriginal people because they do not want to change their lifestyles in the fear of losing their identity. The people living in Canada still observe cultural practices that put the members of aboriginal people at risk of contracting serious diseases. Aboriginal people take time to realize the intensity of an injury of infection because they believe that it is the nature that controls their life. The problem is that the understanding of issues comes when their health conditions are irreversible. Lifestyle problems are very common because it is difficult for a nurse to look for these people and give them medical attention and advice (Brennan & Metzler, 2008).
Besides, aboriginal people may have many health complications which are related to lifestyles and culture. The life in poor environment and sanitation is much worse compared to other people from western origins. They suffer from diseases like hypertension, diabetes, sexual infections, ear problems and renal complications. The significant problem is the rejection of visiting health care centers and failure to follow advice of medical professionals’. Thus, the aboriginal people are exposed into further risks considering the family violence that is common in the aboriginal families.
Due to these social health problems, many provisions and Federal government decided to help people from the aboriginal community suffering from health crisis. The government employed a great number of trained and qualified nurses in every local health care unit and ensured frequent visits by medical specialist or professional. The government’s idea was no effective health solution to Aboriginal people because there was a social barrier that prevented people from attending hospitals and clinics. Thus, the idea of identifying the important social determinants of aboriginal health comes in so that these indigenous communities get good health services.
Determinants of Aboriginal Health
Determinants of health are the factors that enhance and improve life of people and maintain good health. The determinants help to integrate the lives of individuals and group in society where there is equal access to health and medical services. Some of the determinants of health include fair distribution of wealth, employment, improved living environments and education (Marmot & Ruth, 2009). Public awareness, social health protection, transportation to health centers, healthy food and supportive networks are also among the determinants of health. Determinant factors are responsible for improving the health of all citizens, communities and improve equality in medical services. However, there is an important factor that helps to make sure that the determinants of health are implemented as it is supposed. The health public policy that must be structured by the ruling people or persons in power to regulate the conducts of people assigned the duty of providing health to the aboriginal community (Asch, 1998).
Education is the foundation of knowledge and understanding in all parts of the world. There is a big gap and difference between an educated and illiterate person in many aspects like reasoning, perception or understanding and decision making. Many people from the aboriginal community do not attend good schools and also a large number of them do not finish or complete schools. Lack of education and information contributed to the ignorance of visiting health centers as early as symptoms are discovered because people do not differentiate sickness or illness and injuries. The minimal level of education also leads to the bad perception about health services and adoption of culture in view of illness and diseases. Providing equality in education is an important determinant of health because research show that the death rate gap between educated and illiterate persons is high and is because of lack of understanding. Education should be considered as a determinant to improve the health status of aboriginal people. Government must take measures to ensure that these indigenous tribes get quality education and acquire knowledge to handle issues.
Employment and Unemployment
Many nations and states encounter unemployment problems in different angles and areas. Unemployment is a major cause to family economic problems and financial constraints. A significant number of aboriginal people have no access to good jobs since their culture is more of forest activities and also do not acquire qualified education. Thus, it becomes difficult to ask a person to seek medical services and health insurance since they do not have money to cover for the expenses and charges. An important step is to offer assistance by providing jobs and make the lower income earners economically stable. Employment will help to provide money to people and they can afford to buy an insurance cover and attend medical services (Leacock, 2009). It is worrying when a medical specialist or professional visits a health unit and there are no patients because they are afraid of charges and are engaged in economic activity to feed themselves. There should be equality in employment chances to lift the welfare of aboriginal people. The governments also must ensure equal distribution of health insurance and other medical plans to help aboriginal people.
Improved Housing and Living Environments
Diseases and sicknesses arise from poor living environment and conditions associated with bacteria and germs. The history of aboriginal people describes them as people associated with living in careless houses and abandoned caves. The living conditions need to be addressed without affecting the cultural perception of the aboriginal people (Leacock,2009). Safe housing must be provided aboriginal people so that children stop suffering and dying of infections and sickness or illness. The government must go beyond the policy of equal health rights and make sure that the community receives improved housing and does not suffer from diseases and violence.
Transport Availability to Health Centers
The distance and the time taken to reach a hospital or a health facility is a factor that makes many patients seek custom treatment. Many people do not have interest of visiting a health center because of the distance and the stage of the sickness. Such a delay contributes to the development of the disease and they will only visit a nurse when the situation is critical and the patient is weak. Thus, there should a good response to health emergency and transportation means to locals of the aboriginal community since they are in need of good transport facilities. Improved transport means that roads in reserves must be maintained and ambulances deployed to several locations to makes sure the emergency cases are attended to protect careless deaths.
Universal Health Care
When addressing the issue of health problems of aboriginal people, the stakeholders must put aside the contribution and perception or understanding of an individual and address the whole issue as a community problem. There are individuals who might reject the program of helping the people of aboriginal to acquire good health services because of cultural perceptions and customs. Personal interests should not be a barrier to providing equality to people since the welfare of the society is beyond the interests of a person. Study shows that many children are left to die in their houses while parents are busy playing gambling games and taking drugs. Other elderly people take most of their time in taking drugs despite them been in remote areas and leave their families in vain. It is, therefore, necessary and important to assume the various perceptions of a few people and go ahead to provide equality in universal indigenous community.
Indigenous people living in North America, in Canada have a very established and rich culture. Therefore, it is necessary and required to recognize, appreciate, understand and respect their way of life and give health assistance without discrimination and to ask them to abide their culture. Different scholars view the social determinants as compliment of respecting the culture in achieving the health objective and target of aboriginal people. The Indians, Metis and Inuit value their culture as a sign and a symbol of identity and it might cause conflicts if the health determinants do not recognize their status.
The public health policy must be able to protect and safeguard the social and cultural determinants of health of aboriginal people. Cultural and social determinants are necessary to change the perception and views of the health requirements and guidelines. People should be educated on the collective and individual rights on health issue. They should be able to make decisions without any force and discrimination so that each person becomes an agent of change and support the initiative. There should be no forced relocation of people from their ancestors’ location, but rather allowance to decide what is better for them and suits their lives the most. Community cohesion will give a good understanding that health services are important, but they are voluntarily depended on the person.
Social determinants are doing good job in helping the indigenous people to access the health services in their reserved homes and surroundings. Social determinants have met the objective because many governments are implementing the United Nations’ health program of offering equal chances and opportunities to both civilized and indigenous local tribes. Different scholars and researchers call for implementation of both social and cultural approaches in order to help the aboriginal people. Study reveals that cultural and social determinants such as resilience to perform well in uniting communities are considered to be their mistake. Resilience will give the aboriginal people a chance to analyze and meditate on their health status and review where they have been going wrong.
It is important to make people understand the necessity to use health services (Roy, et al., 2001). Scholars believe that the health problems are beyond the ability of nurses, but are rather culturally related. Thus, there should be more education on cultural and social barriers and practices opening the eyes of aboriginal people and make them accept medical services. Elimination of social barriers and life inequalities will be more effective to improve health of aboriginal people. The world must come together and address the health problems of any indigenous tribe because many innocent lives are lost because of neglect and ignorance of people.