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Threats to public health

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 1858 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The purpose of this essay is to critically discuss the threats to public health and analyse the contribution of social sciences in this respect. I will illustrate the answer by underlying the causation of new public health and comment on how to promote new public health. The essay will aim at the importance of understanding public health professionally, supported by research and evidence. The essay will also outline the affects of globalisation.

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Baum (2001) believes that “definition for public health have changed and developed since the nineteenth century”. On the other hand, Costello and Haggort (2003) defines that public health has multiple concept which consist on a wide range of social, political and economic perspective. Public health has been described as both “new and old” (Costello and Haggort, 2003). Armstrong (1988 cited in Baum, 2001) noted that public health in the nineteenth century was more viewed with physical interaction between body and environment (Baum, 2001). However, he believes that new public health is more concerned to achieve healthy individuals, societies and environment.

These activities will organised by societies and government to protect public from disease and to promote healthy lifestyle. It is believed that the new public health will work to ensure practices of government and private sector to promote equity and health between different groups of people within our society. (Baum, 2001) As a new public health professional, my role will be to identify the impact of new public health threats and causation to treat and promote health in our society,

The author further argues that it is important to change global economic system. He emphasised on promoting public health and environment in order to achieve the vision of new public health (Baum, 2001). Although Benson, et al, (2008) food policy report highlights that food crisis is one of the major global health issue, which needs to be analysed. They believe that high rising of food prices are one of the causes of famine in some developing countries. However, Baum (2001) argues that growth of multinational companies can also be seen as the major threat to environment and public’s health in poor countries. He also underline that ill health has increased massively among the poor countries even when their national economy system has grown. For instance it has been mentioned by UNCTAD (2008) that food price index has increased 84 percent in China and India, although their economy rates were growing at record rates.

Furthermore, in many developing countries the crisis has caused a long-term effect in the sector of agriculture productivity. All these factors are contributing towards food crisis. UNCTAD (2008) describes that there are three types of solution in response to sustain economical growth in developing, short-term, medium tern and long-term policy. These policies aim to reduce food prices for consumers. The short-term policy can be effective if government assist to boost production for poor smallholder farmers. The medium-term policy solution is to support farmers by giving a decent return on food production. This could motivate farmers in developing countries to boost production. Although the long term-policy solution is for developing countries to promote agricultural production by providing better knowledge and training to farmers and investing in the international market to tackle global food crisis(UNCTD, 2008)

Costello and Haggort (2003) however pointed out that in past health inequalities amongst social class have had great influence on individual’s health. They argued that people who experiences ill health in their childhood continues to develop problems related to their health in later life. This can mean that people from poor background will experience poor health and the affluent societies will always benefits good health throughout their life. However, Baum (2001) argued that health inequality is very common in developing country. This has been caused by expense in healthcare sector for public and poor distribution of wealth in their country.

Baum (2001) stated that globalization has potential implication both negative and positive on public health. Moreover, Lee (2000) defines globalization as a natural changing process of human interaction in terms of economic, political, social, cultural and environmental. However, BMJ (2002) article highlights factors which can influence socioeconomic status, education, gender and age which could happen both positively and negatively for an individual. The article however, argues that faeachem’s statement about “globalization is mostly good for you health” is not based on reality ground. The article continues to debate the challenges of globalization. On the other hand, Lee (2000) highlighted that large numbers of death has been resulted in adults due to non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular, cancer and respiratory diseases.

This is believed to have an immense effect of globalization in the United Kingdom. Other non-communicable disease has been affected by the global change in our environment and lifestyle. It is believed that television viewing is also linked with sedentary lifestyle, particularly children who have been mostly affected to an increase in globalised lifestyle. On the contrary, Lohr et al (cited in Lee, 2000) describes the positive changes of globalization such as evidence based medicine and clinical practice guidelines has spread from United Kingdom and America to Europe and other parts of the world. He believes that the knowledge of medicine practice has been shared worldwide to benefit public health.

Labonte and Torgerson (2005) stated that the impact of globalization is not un-known in western countries. They stated that international organisations needs to critically recongnise the consequence of globalization in poor countries. Although, BMJ (2002) believes it is significant to provide evidence based approach to globalization and health to analayse the impact of some policies. For instance, World Trade organization needs to open propasals for all sectors of the economy such as NHS which was introduce in Britian through private finance initiative. The article further highlights priority issues which need to be debated such as health services in the United Kingdom.

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On the contrary, Lee (2000) stated in his article that World Health Organisation has been playing a major role to address global health challenges such as control on tobacco use and minimizing factors that cause malaria. On the other hand Labonte and Torgerson (2005) argued that the World Health Organisation has identified several serious health-related issues such as negative effects of cost recovery for healthcare service, free health programs for poor people, limited recourses for health and education.

On the contrary Daar et al ( 2002 cited in Labonte and Torgerson, 2005) stated that government has paid very little attention to public health system in poor countries. Labonte and Togerson, (2005) identified that the impacts on health is a consequences of globalization, which interacts with domestic political and economic. They further argued that their concern is equity in health between nations. However, the health impact of globalization has caused immense mortality, morbidity and disability rates.

According to Labonte and Togerson (2005) researchers believes that critical steps need to be taken to tackle health disease faced in poor countries. Lee (2000) suggested that policy makers and health professional needs to be involve in global public health issues. On the contrary, Baum (2001) believes that it will be hard to tackle the socio and economic aspects of health as it could bring argument with views of those, who believes in benefiting poor people in the society. He also described that public health will need to be “global to be effect”. The global health inequalities and inequities within countries are increasing and new diseases and environmental issues will emerge as a result of neglecting global health issues (Baum, 2001).

Although Lee (2000) suggested that another possible solution to tackle global health issues is to draw attention of the public to inform them about the importance of globalization to public health, for instance through media and press. He believes that it is vital that the government provides financial support for research project on global health issues. On the other hand BMJ (2002) stated that global trade can minimize economical inequality for developing countries. Furthermore, the article suggests that world leaders such as G8 submits needs to review the issue of globalization and provide financial aid to developing countries, who have been massively suffered from globalization. The article also suggested that health professionals need to carry basic research to improve health in poor enviroments.

Baum (2001) stated that new public health threats in the twenty-first century will have a great impact on economic, health and environment. Consequently, public health professionals needs to address these new threats to public, plan strategies and make policies to tackle public health issues. He further argued that new threats to environment and health will rapidly increase in numbers Armstrong (1988 cited in Baum, 2001) suggested that the new public health will also need to include participation of communities to promote health and equity.

In conclusive, as a public health professional, I will need to tackle and find ways to treat new public health threats. In my viewpoint, socioeconomic factor can have a great influence on public health. Consequently, I will need to take sociological approach to treat health and illness. I will also need to promote health to inform the public of the new threats to improve health status. To reduce health inequality between socioeconomic will be priority for public health professional.


  • Baum. F. (2002) The New Public Health 2nd ed. Oxford University Press
  • Benson, T.et al (2008) Global food crises: IFPRI food policy report. [Internet] Available from: http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/ib55_0.pdf. [Accessed on 7th of December 2009]
  • Brithish Medical Journal (2002) Globalisation and Health. Vol 324, Pp: 44-52
  • Costello, J, and Haggort, M. (2003) Public health and society Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Labonete. R. and Torgerson, R. (2005) Interrogating globalisation, health and development: Towards a comphrensive framework for research, p;icy and political action. Cricitical public health;15(2):157-179
  • Lee, K. (2000) The impact of globalisation on public health: implication for the UK faculty of public health medicine; 22(3): 253-262
  • UNCTAD (2008) Policy briefs no;2 [Internet] Available from: http://unctad.org/en/docs/presspb20081_en.pdf [Accessed on 7th of December 2009]


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