Determinants of Health

Introduction to Determinants of Health

Coronavirus disease surfaced up as a pandemic that went on to affect almost all nations, in 2019. It is defined as an illness caused by novel coronavirus. The doctors have now coined it under the term of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. This virus was initially identified in the Wuhan city of China, located in Hubei province (Lu, 2020). The first confirmed case was reported by the World health Organization (WHO) on December 31st, 2019. However, the global outbreak of the disease was declared by the WHO on 30th January, 2020 (Baloch, 2020).

Later on, WHO went on to declare this disease as a global pandemic and global health issue on 11th march, 2020, resulting in strict lockdowns in many nations. This was the first time since H1N1 influenza was declared as a pandemic in 2009. COVID-19 is a short form given for coronavirus disease found in 2019 (Lai, 2020).

Various public health groups as well as World Health Organization have created a website portal, which keeps a track of number of individuals affected by this disease across the globe. The tracker updates live numbers of patients reported as per positive status, negative or recovered status, critically ill status and number of individuals that have died because of this condition. The data has been collected from all nations and is constantly updated on the portal. The symptoms of the disease are found to last for a total span of two weeks or approximately 14-15 days. The symptoms are inclusive of the one reflected in the case of common flu or cold, such as cough, fever, fatigue, soreness of throat, shortness of breath, head ache, running nose and so on (Chang, 2020). The symptoms however, vary from one sect of population to another. The severity of the symptoms is also varying in nature from one age group to another. Generally, the people belonging to older age group and having multiple comorbidities are found to be more vulnerable to risk of catching this infection. Although lately it was seen that people belonging to almost all age groups have been affected by this chronic illness which is leaving the patients with severe after effects. The number of reported case as well as death rate in Australia, however, remains considerably low. Here is an insight on the various factors that have enabled it to happen in Australia.

Determinants of Health - Political, Social, Geographical, and Cultural

  • Geographical

For some of the obvious reasons Australia has been largely able to restrict the spread of the disease due to the geographical advantage that is available. Being sealed off away from other countries in the world, it has been able to prevent the virus from entering into the country, especially from a new source (Varghese, 2019). This has also been helpful in keeping the chances of community spread considerably low, even during peak of infection of the virus.

  • Political

For promoting public welfare, government in Australia opted for the approach of formation of a “National Cabinet” (Desborough, 2020). This comprises of a temporary political body including the nation’s Prime Minister and all states premiers and territories chief ministers. This has made decision-making process quite fluent and effective. Due to pooling of resources from every level and accommodating them at a single pedestal, the government has been able to cut down the chances of bias and second-opinions during crucial decision-making process. With coordinated responses and without any overlapping judgements, the government has been able to deliver the required support and guidance in a schematic and methodical manner. The formation of National Cabinet included ministers from bot ruling parties, working towards a common cause, to protect human. This has also been one of the precipitating factors for success in Australia in keeping the numbers visibly low.

  • Social

Australia was one of the nations to impose very strict restrictions, when it came to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Australian health ministry has been constantly engaged in providing people with all kind of mental and physical assistance in this crisis situation. Multiple helplines were launched to help people in distress. The advisories were also delivered by the government through various social media websites and portals. Apart from the governmental organization’s various community services and local groups also volunteered to assist the healthcare professionals (Downey, 2020). Guidelines on preventive measures were also shared with the individuals on practices to be included to protect oneself and others from the infection. The government also posed restriction on international as well as domestic flights at quite an early reporting of the cases. Lockdown restrictions were imposed upon getting new cases, by controlling the movement of people from one point to another and thus, helping largely in preventing the spread infection by impeding its rate.

  • Cultural

Despite strict lockdown measures in some countries the public was not observed to be following the guidelines properly. In Australia however, there was a good adherence observed in public, on following rules and regulation implemented in place for their safety. Prompt actions to the situation, both by the government as well as the common masses, was quite helpful in preventing an overwhelming wave of infection amongst the population. The rate of compliance for lockdown restrictions, in terms of behavior was also observed to be more compliant in Australian population. This also helped a lot in keeping the number of infection individuals quite low.

Determinants of Health – Demographic, Behaviours and Outcomes

  • Demographic

The number of infected people belonged to the age group of 20’s and 30’s, as observed. It is due to the fact that these age group individuals travel a lot and are thus, viable to bring back more potential infections. A cluster of infection was also found to be spread by a group of travellers, who were initially unaware of their condition or symptoms (Support The Guardian, 2019). Due to not feeling anything abnormal, they did not report for testing on time. They also kept on socializing in groups, leading to more numbers of cases reported. As the age progresses the immune system functioning depreciates largely. This tagged along with multiple comorbidities can be considered as one of the major attributing factors for development of COVID-19 virus in elderly population.

  • Behaviour

There has been a great value of compliance reflected by the Australian population (Australian Government, Department of health, 2020). There is a respect for law in Australian citizens, as observed in pandemic time. The Australian law also charges heavy penalties and severity of punishment is higher, if the person gets caught during any unlawful activity. This has also been one of the contributing factors for people to adhere to the guidelines dispersed by the government. Australian population was also found to be more connected and updated regarding the updates on the coronavirus and its implications. There was a strong motivation provided to the doctors and the medical staff engaged in the work of delivering medical care during this pandemic, from the government side. This has also helped in boosting the morale of the people during these difficult times.

  • Outcomes

The overall outcomes from each perspective were found to be positive. The infection rate was managed to be kept as a low-key event. This also helped the medical staff to manage urgent and critical cases with their full capacity. It also helped in lowering the additional burden of rigorous working schedules for the doctors and nurses. By restricting the spread by multiple folds, the infection was also maintained at lower rates and thus, minimizing the mortality rate. The government also paced the rate of tests done per day, which helped in early detection and early prevention of symptoms as well as infections in the local community (Pachana, 2020).

Reflection on Determinants of Health

Both government and the local communities played a vital role in disabling the spread of infection of coronavirus. There was an added advantage in terms of geographical positioning for Australia. The government made full and appropriate use of the fact in managing the pandemic. Early interventions and strategic management from the government side was helpful in establishing strong foundational grounds for preventive measures to be put in place. The fact that both the ruling as well as opposition parties worked in sync with each other, is what made the effort a success. With strong lockdown restrictions and systematic approach to the same, the government was able to control the situation, which had gone so much worse in other nations. The country also increased the number of tests done per day, ensuring that no stone is left unturned in letting go of any case undetected. The cooperation and act fullness on the part of public also enabled smooth facilitation of the services during these difficult times. The determinants of health also played in favour of the Australian population, helping in numbers of infected people as well as number of people dead, considerably at a lower rate. Public and private sectors worked hand in hand with each other to enable healthcare facilities. Private sector also helped the infected people by the means of telehealth as majority of the population was connected to each other through various internet portal (Jnr, 2020). This also contributed largely in making the efforts put by the government more structured and thus, more effective.

References for Determinants of Health

Australian Government, Department of health, 2020. https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvoPouqSi6wIVWCUrCh1c8AmQEAAYASAAEgJFhfD_BwE

Baloch, S., Baloch, M. A., Zheng, T., & Pei, X. (2020). The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic. The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine250(4), 271-278. https://doi.org/10.1620/tjem.250.271

Chang, D., Mo, G., Yuan, X., Tao, Y., Peng, X., Wang, F. S., ... & Qin, E. (2020). Time kinetics of viral clearance and resolution of symptoms in novel coronavirus infection. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine201(9), 1150-1152. https://doi.org/10.1164/rccm.202003-0524LE

Desborough, J., Dykgraaf, S. H., Rankin, D., & Kidd, M. (2020). The importance of consistent advice during a pandemic: An analysis of Australian advice regarding personal protective equipment in healthcare settings during COVID-19'. Australian Journal of General Practice49(6), 36-39.

Downey, D. C., & Myers, W. M. (2020). Federalism, Intergovernmental Relationships, and Emergency Response: A Comparison of Australia and the United States. The American Review of Public Administration, 52(3), 47-53. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0275074020941696

Jnr, B. A. (2020). Use of telemedicine and virtual care for remote treatment in response to COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Medical Systems44(7), 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10916-020-01596-5.

Lai, C. C., Shih, T. P., Ko, W. C., Tang, H. J., & Hsueh, P. R. (2020). Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and corona virus disease-2019 (COVID-19): The epidemic and the challenges. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, 10(5), 98-102. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2020.105924

Lu, H., Stratton, C. W., & Tang, Y. W. (2020). Outbreak of pneumonia of unknown etiology in Wuhan, China: The mystery and the miracle. Journal of Medical Virology92(4), 401-402. https://doi.org/10.1002/jmv.25678

Pachana, N. A., Beattie, E., Byrne, G. J., & Brodaty, H. (2020). COVID-19 and psychogeriatrics: The view from Australia. International Psychogeriatrics, 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1041610220000885

Support The Guardian, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/31/australians-in-their-20s-have-more-confirmed-cases-of-coronavirus-than-any-other-age-group

Varghese, B. M., Barnett, A. G., Hansen, A. L., Bi, P., Heyworth, J. S., Sim, M. R., ... & Pisaniello, D. L. (2019). Geographical variation in risk of work-related injuries and illnesses associated with ambient temperatures: A multi-city case-crossover study in Australia, 2005–2016. Science of the Total Environment687, 898-906. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.06.098

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