The article by McMichael, Butler, and Dixon (2015) focuses on describing various important aspects of ecological public health thinking. These aspects include the effects of climate change, environmental risks to human health, and other forms of adverse changes relating to the global environment. The background of the mentioned focus of the paper is recognition of the need to incorporate the ecological perspective in modern public health. Climate change influences community and population-level health outcomes through exposure to extreme and health-threatening weather events, changes in food chains, changes in infectious disease patterns, and indirect impacts such as mental health, agricultural failures, and losses of livelihoods. McMichael et al. (2015) note the limited receptivity of basic concepts in this perspective in broader public health. Upon reviewing the different aspects of ecological public health thinking, the researchers recognized the links between environmental and social factors, thereby representing an eco-social approach in the study.
The study reviews the perennial problem of the vulnerability of poor communities in public health policymaking and delivery processes. It illustrates that the topic is especially important in modern public health owing to the multi-factored threats that confront the health of the poor. In such context, radical measures and strategies are important to alleviate these pressures on public health. Besides the reconfiguration of social determinants, McMichael et al. (2015) note the importance of ecological public health as an overarching framework to address these needs based on the principles of global responsibility, equity, conviviality/compassion, and sustainability.
One interesting aspect of the article is addressing the vulnerability of poor populations to adverse health outcomes, and I concur with the article about the need for societies to address these disparities effectively via policy-making. McMichael et al. (2015) note that the levels of health, accessibility to healthcare services, and public health resources are highly unequal between and within the population, particularly between the wealthy and the poor. Healthcare ought to be a right, rather than a privilege, for members of the society because of the fundamental role of health in the productivities and wellbeing of human beings, and in terms of the equality of human beings. No human being is intrinsically more important relative to another. The nature of being human in itself represents a critical basis of equality among society members, such that each member merits respect and has a right to the protection of his/her integrity (Geiger, 2015). In such context, the level of wealth, social status, and factors, such as differences in gender, age, and sexual orientation ought not to determine the accessibility and adequacy of healthcare services in managing the health needs of any human being.
The mentioned differences can be addressed. The way to address these disparities in health between and within populations based on wealth is through competent and sensitive policy-making (Chokshi, 2018). This effort ought to make healthcare available and affordable to all society members, which can be achieved through cooperation among different stakeholders is essential. These efforts ought to feature a sense of responsibility towards all the members of a community. Additionally, policy-making should demonstrate a special sense of responsibility towards the poor, especially since equitable distribution of resources is an important basis of social and economic development if such development is to be balanced, and hence effective and sustainable (Steele, Fernando, & Weddikkara, 2012). Without inclusion of the poor in the society, development cannot be sustainable and effective.
This paper has identified the issue of vulnerability of poor population to adverse health outcomes as one interesting thing from the article by McMichael et al. (2015). Based on the nature of human beings as intrinsically equal to one another, the level of wealth or social status ought not to determine the accessibility and adequacy of healthcare services. Policy-making that demonstrates a special sense of responsibility towards the poor is critical in addressing this problem by making healthcare available and affordable for all.
Chokshi, D. (2018). Income, poverty, and health inequality. Journal of the American Medical Association 319(13): 1312-1313.
Geiger, C. (2015). Research handbook on human rights and intellectual poverty. London, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.
McMichael, A., Butler, C., & Dixon, J. (2015). Climate change, food systems and population health risks in their eco-social context. Public Health 129: 1361-1368.
Steele, P., Fernando, N., & Wedikkara, M. (2012). Poverty reduction that works: Experience of scaling up development success. London, UK: Routledge.