Health Trends in Asia

In Asiatic countries, the health conditions of the people are largely determined by social causes. Even though the countries have reached unprecedented levels of prosperity, poverty continues to loom large, which has resulted in a lot of health disorders. Here is a brief overview of some of these illnesses.

Lifestyle and Health

It has been found that rapid economic growth in Asian countries has resulted in a drastic change in the people’s standards of living. Occupational patterns are mostly sedentary in style. There has been great reliance on fast foods, which are rich in fat, sugar and salt. Reports also show an increased intake in alcohol and use of tobacco and narcotics.

Consumption of alcohol- Alcohol consumption and poverty can be seen as inter-related. Excessive consumption of alcohol has been reported among rural Indian laborers and the uneducated class of China. It has been the cause of high levels of hypertension and a host of psychosocial pathologies as well.

Use of tobacco- Studies show that the use of tobacco products is responsible for the death of more than 5 million people in the Asian continent. This has been found to be greater than the number of deaths caused by accidents, homicides, drugs and AIDS put together. The number of teenage smokers has been found to be increasing in South East Asian countries like Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia. Unless stringent measures are adopted to curb the use of tobacco and related products, mortality rates will continue to rise uninhibited.

Drug abuse and related ill health- Countries in South-East Asia and China have a comparatively higher rate of opiates. There has been an increasing trend towards drug use in the last two centuries, when people have been experimenting with a combination of narcotics. A high use of cannabis has been recorded in Australia, the Federated States of Micronesia and Papua New Guinea. Abuse of amphetamines has been found to be high in Cambodia and Indonesia.

The abuse of narcotics has led to a steady rise in health disorders like irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain which lead to paralytic attacks and strokes. Respiratory ailments, irregular heartbeat, and extreme anorexia are found among the users living in these countries.

Gender and Health

There is an inevitable link between gender and health. In Asian countries, gender discrimination still exists and poverty is almost feminized. Social status and economic conditions also determine the distribution of resources between men and women, boys and girls in a family. Poor living conditions are known to affect the health of women adversely.

In countries like India, women in rural areas are more susceptible to ailments. They are prone to diseases arising from exposure to household smoke, infertility because of STI (sexually transmitted infections). It is important that health related gender issues are addressed within the framework of poverty and social inequality.

Maternal and child mortality

Research shows that maternal mortality rates (MMR) has declined in most Asian countries. But child mortality rates continue to increase. It has been found to be comparatively higher among people belonging to low income groups. For example, the mortality rate of children under the age of five in poor families has almost been three times greater, when compared to the richer families. This has been the case in countries like Philippines, Viet Nam, and Philippines.
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