In the here and now, the global health care sector is highly abreast in providing intervention to the health problems that may or largely affect the well-being of the people. According to Conklin (2002), the health care system in the past was as not as multifaceted nowadays like access to health services. The quality of life, the ability to provide for the family, and the capability to function as a productive individual in the workforce are associated with health. Being in a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being is an important determiner as to how people contribute to the society, which can affect the economy. Through the help of the government, people receive the intervention or services for health promotion, prevention, restoration, and rehabilitation. This is to ensure that the workforce can be at the optimum level of functioning for the progress or success of the economy. In this essay, the factors that could motivate intervention in health care by the government, which includes equity, efficiency factors and the opportunity costs of such interventions will be discussed.
The word factor is broad in its very sense, but in the medical parlance factor is regarded as the determinant of health. Liberally, factors such as abode, environmental state, genetics, socioeconomic status, level of education, and social relationships have higher impact on the health of individuals and communities compared to access and utilization of health care services (World Health Organization, 2014). Moreover, these factors when combined, or not, are beyond the individuals’ control that may affect the health. Those that can cause risk, danger, harm, or potential loss require interventions to improve, maintain, or restore health. “ Drugs, foods, supplements, vaccinations, screening tests, exercise, hospital treatment, and various types of care are just a few of common health care interventions” (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, n. d.). In providing these, according to Shiell, Donaldson, Mitton, and Currie (2002), health economics play a vital role in making decisions to promote efficiency and equity. Efficiency is making the best use of available resources, while equity is about fairness in which fair allocation must be exercised especially if resources are scarce. Another equally important term in the health care system is opportunity cost. It is based on the benefit that can be generated from utilizing resources elsewhere, like resources used in one intervention are not available for use in other programs; therefore, the gains that would have been derived have been forgone (Phillips, 2009). Moreover, interventions’ opportunity costs are best assessed by the health benefits such as life years saved and quality adjusted life years gained that could have been attained had the money been allotted in the subsequent best alternative intervention or program (Palmer & Raftery, 1999).
According to Dupas (2012), the health sector is one of the areas where the government intervenes. There are two motivations why governments intervene the healthcare sector across the globe. Dupas stated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights under article 5 which states that access to health care services is a central right of each and every one is the primary motivation. The government as the one in authority shall ensure that this right is exercised. Another equally important motivation is that the health care sector is subject to market failures, such as consumption externalities (Dupas 2012). Externality according to Freudenberg (2012) refers to the effect of production or consumption that affects the society as a whole and not the producer or consumer. The product which generates high profits are being produced more; however, this has negative effects on the health of the society. Externalities causes a chain of “ more sales, more profits, more subsidies, more diseases”, according to Freudenberg (2012). For an instance, the production of fast foods, cigarettes, alcohol and sugary beverages. These generate huge amount of money and gives rise to economic progress, but slowly killing the health of the population. According to Dupas (2012), “ to make remedy to a market failure and attain social optimum, public provision of health services, public provision of information, subsidies for private provision, and regulation of private provision are the four main ways”.
Moreover, there are many factors affecting health which the government provides appropriate funding and attention in order to halt the problem before it becomes long term and cause a financial burden. For example, epidemic diseases such as polio and measles that can be eradicated through vaccination, the incidence of cardiovascular diseases and obesity brought about by sedentary lifestyle can be reduced by initiation of behavioral change, poor family planning methods and poor access to antenatal check-up can be improved through the provision of information and access to health services considering efficiency and equity.
One factor that prompts the government to fund immunizations is the wide-spread of polio disease in every part of the world. According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (2010), Polio or also known as Poliomyelitis is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus. The virus invades the nervous system that causes permanent paralysis to the affected person. It is spread through direct contact with the person infected with it. Children under five years old are the ones who are most vulnerable to be contaminated with the infection. Mostly, those who are infected are asymptomatic. The polio virus is just one of the many cases where cure has not yet been found and the only way not to acquire this is through prevention. Two effective polio vaccines were invented as a preventive measure to protect the child for a lifetime. Thereupon, to eradicate the epidemic polio disease a routine immunization to children must be implemented by the government. Thus, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched. Overall, since the GPEI was launched, the number of cases has fallen by over 99%. In 2014, only 3 countries in the world remain polio-endemic: Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan (WHO, 2014). Further, despite the high cost of this health program by the government this still remains to be cost-effective. Most importantly, this saves children and their families from a lifetime burden brought about by this deadly disease. Not only that, this may also decrease the likelihood of transmitting the disease to children who did not undergo any immunization.
Similarly, another potentially fatal disease called measles has become a health threat to every country in the world. According to the Immunization Advisory Centre (2013), Measles is caused by a virus known as morbillivirus. Its transmission is via large airborne droplet that can be acquired through coughing or sneezing and it can be spread quickly. Unlike polio, people who acquire this illness are symptomatic. Rashes all over the body is a much known symptom of measles. Aside from that, measles also have no cure or treatment like polio. Again, preventive measures are the best way to avoid this illness. MMR, which stands for measles-mumps-rubella vaccine was discovered to be the most effective way not to acquire measles. Two doses of measles-mumps-rubella vaccine must be given to fully protect a person from it. This immunization helps people become immune to measles, as well as prevent from spreading measles to people who have low immune system and those who are not fully immunized. This health program is cost-effective because prevention is more practical than paying for hospital and professional fees, brought about by the complications of measles. For instance, when a child who is not immunized can easily be infected with measles, which we all know has no cure but can cause complications to the child. These complications will have to be treated to avoid worsening the condition of the child, thus paying more than having the child be immunized in the first place.
Another factor that alarms the government and which requires apt intervention is the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. As stated by Pate (2013), a sedentary lifestyle is defined as a type of lifestyle where an individual does not get consistent amounts of physical activity. Where physical inactivity is considered the disappointment to meet the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), stating that every individual must partake and take actions in a minimum of 150 minutes of light exercise, or 75 minutes of a more energetic and dynamic exercise schedule. Most health professionals are also in agreement that walking 10, 000 steps a day and that is approximately 5 miles, is the perfect goal to agree for having and cultivating health and lessening the health risks caused by being inactive. One effect of having a sedentary lifestyle is placing an individual at high risk to diseases and illnesses and increase all grounds of mortality, double the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, and upsurge the risks of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression and anxiety. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 60 to 85% of the population worldwide does not involve themselves in sufficient physical activity. Thus, for this reason making physical inactivity the fourth leading risk factor for universal mortality.
Amid the precautionary procedures suggested by WHO are moderate physical activity for up to 30 minutes every day, tobacco cessation then leading to termination, and healthy nutrition. Adding up to individual lifestyle variations, governments and policy makers are also recommending to “ move for health” by making and generating a helpful and supportive setting for individuals. Amongst the measures commended are executing transportation rules that make it harmless for people to walk and ride bicycles, enacting tobacco-free public buildings and spaces, creating an accessible parks, play area and public centers, and endorsing physical activity programs in schools, communities and health services.
Nutrition is the consumption of food, considered in relation to the body’s dietary needs. Good nutrition is an adequate, well balanced diet joined with consistent and systematic physical exercise is a pillar for having of good health. Poor nourishment can lead to weaken immunity, high risk susceptibility to illnesses, impaired physical and mental development, and reduced productivity.
According to WHO (2014), Malnutrition, presents important threats to human health. Today the world encounters a double burden of malnutrition that includes both under nutrition and overweight, specifically in developing countries. Malnourishment is connected with the underweight BMI categorization, but it is also likely to present at a normal weight and still be under nourished. Children regardless of their age and sex even though they are eating well may still be undernourished if they are not getting proper and suitable levels of fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals in their diet. For the meantime, overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that usually bring risks to health. A crude population measure of obesity is the body mass index, a person’s weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of his or her height (in meters). A person with a BMI of 30 or more is normally measured obese. A person with a BMI equal to or more than 25 is considered overweight. Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Exercise will help in managing appetite and will maximize the number of calories you burn while remaining healthy. WHO promotes actions to reduce recreational sedentary screen time among children. This finding is founded on strong evidence of efficiency in lessening recreational sedentary screen time, increasing physical activity, improving diet, and improving or maintaining weight-related outcomes.
According to World Health Organization (2014), in the 20 th Century Family planning is the higher health achievement in the world. The family planning services provides each individuals to achieve desired birth spacing and family size, and contributes to improved health outcomes for infants, children, women, and families. The role and responsibility of government in family planning is mainly focus on education by providing relevant information on family planning as well as access to birth control options and healthcare. Family planning is essential to all countries, which helps to decrease maternal and neonatal mortality rate, and make healthier life. In support, Keesara nad Lesser (2014) stated that one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce maternal mortality is through right family planning methods and services. However, the two pointed out that although it is beneficial, resource-constrained countries suffer from scarcity of supplies and low quality intervention programs, particularly in the rural area. In this case, not all countries can maximize its resources and allocate appropriate funding, efficiency and equity almost always are not met due to the highest priority of a certain demographic area.
Likewise, antenatal care, the care that a women receives during pregnancy, helps to ensure healthy outcomes for women and newborn (World Health Organization, 2013). Antenatal care service includes of therapeutic interventions that would be beneficial to the woman and her infant, as well as provide education about the importance of antenatal checkup and planning for a safe birth; thus, prevent from maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality in the world. During the antenatal visits, there are various benefit for the women from various interventions, including counselling abouthealthy living styles, providing of iron/folic acid supplements, and vaccination against tetanus toxoid to prevent newborns against neonatal tetanus as well neonatal mortality and morbidity. In rural areas, the limited availability of health services as well is also one of the major problems. Due to the lack of health services women cannot access for antenatal checkup. Therefore, the government has funded a free service of antenatal checkups and has also trained many skilled birth personnel like midwives in the community to provide frequently home service especially in the remote area.
In conclusion, healthy people largely contributes to a happy, healthy and prosperous nation. The two main factors that the government intervene in health care sector are the basic human rights and market failures. Further, some of the health factors that prompt the government to take initiatives to implement health programs are the epidemiology of diseases such as polio and measles, the sharp escalation of cardiovascular diseases and obesity due to sedentary lifestyle or consumer externalities, and the increasing maternal morbidity and mortality rate.
These factors that were provided interventions according to studies are cost-effective and achieved desirable effects, for example, reducing incidence rates. However, further studies shall be made to quantify as to how a particular intervention can be efficient and equitable. The equity of an intervention, in most cases is achieved because areas that cannot be reached do not receive the same access compared to those who live in accessible places, this is true to the third world countries. Also, opportunity cost are measured through health benefits of what has been sacrificed for another intervention. But, further studies shall be made to provide empirical evidence on how a specific intervention can be cost-efficient. Efficiency, equity and opportunity cost of health interventions vary according to different circumstances per country or demographic population such as government funds, scarce resources and priority needs.