“The greatest wealth is health.”

Our health is, no doubt, our greatest wealth and sometimes there are factors in the environment that can affect our health. The conditions in which we are born, work and live are examples of such factors. These shape our lives and are called the Social Determinants of health (SDOH).

There are mainly five social determinants of health. The first one is health care access and quality. Health care access and quality means that one should be able to go to the hospital and be treated properly if the need arises. Insurance should be able to cover the fees and the hospital should be nearby.

The second social determinant of health is education access and quality. One should be able to complete their education. Be it high school, acquiring higher education, language and literacy. Health and education are directly related. The more educated one is, the more health literacy they’ll have. Chances are that those who are educated will have higher paying jobs and better health insurance. They will also be able to understand and act upon basic health-related information.

Believe it or not, there is a major link between our health and the community we live in. Several communities support discrimination, racism, casteism and social injustice. These things, if not changed, may result to poor health. For example, living in a discriminatory community may lead to development of stress which can lead to hypertension and shorter lifespans.

“It costs money to remain healthy in society,” someone rightly said. Economic stability plays a major role as a social determinant of health. Low income can result in lack of health insurance and health care. One may end up living in bad conditions with no proper food or drinking water due to economic instability. This can give rise to innumerable ailments. Thus, it is important for one to earn well in order to maintain good health.

Talking about social determinant of health in the context of our neighborhood and built environment, we tend to neglect the fact that where we live affects us physically and mentally. A neighborhood with low qualities of housing, water and air can have serious effects on one’s health. Our health is sensitive and requires constant care. One cannot risk living in a locality with high risk of lead paint, rodent infestation and whatnot.

Be careful of what you surround yourself with. Take well-thought out decisions when it comes to health because without health, we are of no use. It’s like they say, a man who doesn’t take care of his health is the same as a mechanic not taking care of his tools. You shouldn’t think before spending your time and money on health because it will help you in the long term.

– Saara Mathur, Amity International School Noida



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