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Public Health Determinants

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Introduction

“Population health refers to the health results of individuals which also includes the distribution of such outcomes within the group of people” (Gostin, & Wiley, 2016 p. 34). The approach of human health is one that aims at improving the population of the vast human population (Gostin & Wiley, 2016). For so long, health has been a prime topic of concern with drastically changing patterns in population health and healthcare provision influenced by factors ranging from social, economic, political, environment and culture which in turn affect the health of populations. The paper focuses more on political influences which play a considerable role in determining the health and well-being of the population. Political determinants majorly include policies and programs implemented by government authorities to control or regulate the healthcare provision and outcomes. Political drivers are major determinants of public health concerning health outcomes, health behaviors and ultimately longevity.

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Political Influences

The efforts to define the role of public health governance occurred as part of developing entities such as The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) and National Public Health Performance Standards. The organizations among other numerous government entities entitled to the implementation of policies were established to serve in regulating the health care provisions as well as define the role of government in fostering public health.

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Public health policies implemented by governments provide one of the necessary means for communities to organize its efforts in improving and protecting the health of populations. Larrat, Marcoux & Vogenberg, (2012) note that for most people thinking about health and health outcomes is often a personal issue. However, the reality is that healthcare outcomes are largely influenced by external factors, in this case, politics which are accredited for the creation and implementation of national health policies.

The laws made at the different levels of governance all influence the health status and results of certain groups of people. They are capable of directing  positive change in public health by addressing the direct and indirect determinants  such as pollution, inadequate housing, misuse of drugs, and lack of safe public spaces among others (Larrat, Marcoux & Vogenberg, 2012). For instance, air pollution is well known to be a cause of several health issues such as cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases and even mortality. Practically, the implications related to mentioned issues can be minimized through pollution regulatory policies such as pollution tax which are capable of significantly regulating environment pollution and ultimately in boosting the public health.

Another example of public policies implemented to protect the public from detrimental health is smoking bans which are public policies that prohibit the smoking of tobacco in public and workplaces. The federal state and local anti-smoking laws and regulation have proven effective in stemming the tobacco smoking right from production, promotion, and consumption which is a primary concern of public health (Borrell, Espelt, Rodríguez-Sanz & Navarro, 2007).

In essence, many laws have been set to control the functions of the Health and Human Services which covers disease prevention to health care reform among other guidelines policies and regulation that determine health. Among one of the most notable acts instigated in promoting public health is the Healthcare Reform, The Affordable Act (ACA), which was signed by President Obama in 2010 as a comprehensive revision to the United States Healthcare system. (Larrat, Marcoux & Vogenberg, 2012).  The ACA target is at augmenting access to healthcare, promote quality, and improve the efficiency of the complete patient-care system. The reform has since then instigated maximum efforts throughout the country in the focus of meeting the goals of maximizing public health (Larrat, Marcoux & Vogenberg, 2012).

The aspect of health is dynamic and other than health-related policies; they are others that reinforce and mitigate the health outcomes of populations’ including micro-economic, social and environmental policies.

Macroeconomic Policies

Macroeconomic policies may affect processes related to the economy capable of implicating on health outcomes. The macroeconomic policies are implemented in majorly two ways which include; fiscal and monetary. They are used to stabilize the economy and can mean boosting the economy to be consistent with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and ultimately generating increased job opportunities and improving living condition (Nixon & Ulmann, 2006).

The policies affect health because they are closely related to the level and distribution of income that determines the availability of health care, affordability, and access to quality healthcare. When the economic status of a region is stable, that means people can invest in quality healthcare notable in increased health expenditure, tax revenues, and massive budget allocation to healthcare systems from the government (Osypuk, Joshi, Geronimo & Acevedo-Garcia, 2014). Bottom line, Economic drivers such as income have an important bearing on health as it significantly affects the total expenditure in maintaining well beings. Therefore, if countries can finance their health care system adequately, the public can easily access quality healthcare essential in management and prevention of diseases.

Social Policies

According to Osypuk, Joshi, Geronimo & Acevedo-Garcia (2014), Social systems have the potential to mitigate health outcomes through the patterns in the distribution of social health determinants to different sub-groups of the populations. For instance, many social policies in the United States focus mostly on low-income groups without realizing the potential of discrepancies in health through stratification leading to health inequalities. In contrast, if social policies would focus on reaching all population at all levels, this would mean a broader impact on the health of all individuals in need of healthcare.

Environmental Policies

The environmental policies aimed at protecting environment also indirectly affect public health without a health focus (Remoundou & Koundouri, 2009). In the United States, the federal, state, territorial and local governments have enacted policies to conserve the natural environment which also shapes the public health to some extent. For example, the national energy policies regulate the usage of fuels on vehicles and other locomotives because of the potential risk they pose to the air quality. The mitigation of reducing the use of lead fuel is directed to conserving the air quality which is constituent of the environment but ultimately serves in promoting human health by providing clean breathing air (Remoundou & Koundouri, 2009).

Role of Healthcare Administrators

The task of promoting quality health and access to care is not only a role of the government through policies and programs but can also be facilitated by healthcare administrators. The individuals through their administrative functions are responsible of ensuring the smooth running of operations of a hospital system, a position they can utilize to guarantee that their specific facilities adequately promote health by enforcing the proper policies and procedures outlined by regulators seeking to garner positive progress in public health (Lavis et al, 2005). The administrators can help in structuring policies through cooperation with other associates, make changes that are necessary for enhancing the policies on health provision and adequately support the health vision of a nation in improving the healthcare system at large (Lavis et al, 2005). In fact, some administrators pursue careers in with federal, state and local agencies such as Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to help in shaping health care policies.

Administrators should challenge individuals in their respective role to develop a more holistic approach to their daily activities in the course of developing the full functionality of health policies (Lavis et al., 2005). This way, meeting the requirements of the public policies concerning public health becomes more manageable and more achievable. They can also mitigate for community-based programs that educate people on matters of health and even prepare them to promote healthy lifestyles and choices that aim at improving the health of the entire community.

Administrators are also defined by their leadership skills and should be able to make a positive change in the community (Lavis et al., 2005). For this reason, administrators should be familiar with Medicare and health care laws and programs and conform to them as a way of setting a good example to others about healthcare requirements. As a result, this facilitates the process of providing a solution for improving healthcare outcomes in the society.

Conclusion

Public health is determined by prime forces that range from political, social, economic and environmental factors. The focus of public health is promoting good health across the population in the rapidly changing environment. Political factors play a significant role in influencing public health through public policies that shape the course of activities that might impact on health. The federal, state, territorial and local laws have developed numerous procedures with the aim of reducing the risk factors that cause poor health. Some of this regulations mount on efforts that address such issues as inadequate housing, poor living conditions, pollution, and drugs among others all of which have a leading contribution to health results. Other than the public policies, it is noteworthy on the role of economic policies, social an environmental policies alongside that of administrators as determinants of public health.

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2. Gostin, L. O., & Wiley, L. F. (2016). Public health law: power, duty, restraint. Univ of California Press.

3. Larrat, E. P., Marcoux, R. M., & Vogenberg, F. R. (2012). Impact of Federal and State Legal Trends On Health Care Services. Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 37(4), 218.

4. Lavis, J., Davies, H., Oxman, A., Denis, J. L., Golden-Biddle, K., & Ferlie, E. (2005). Towards systematic reviews that inform health care management and policy-making. Journal of health services research & policy, 10(1_suppl), 35-48.

5. Nixon, J., & Ulmann, P. (2006). The relationship between health care expenditure and health outcomes. The European Journal of Health Economics, 7(1), 7-18.

6. Remoundou, K., & Koundouri, P. (2009). Environmental Effects on Public Health: An Economic Perspective. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 6(8), 2160–2178. http://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph6082160

7. Osypuk, T. L., Joshi, P., Geronimo, K., & Acevedo-Garcia, D. (2014). Do Social and Economic Policies Influence Health? A Review. Current Epidemiology Reports, 1(3), 149–164. http://doi.org/10.1007/s40471-014-0013-5

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