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Globalization and Social Determinants of Health


The world is advancing at a very fast rate and in such a way the sharing of information is quite extensive. Many of the world organizations are currently depending on each more that ever before for information, market and other benefits. This is what has made the world to be so small in terms of time and even distance. The trend behind all advancement is described as globalization. This is simply the depiction of the increased interdependence among the organizations and people of the world. Critical to this interdependence is the impact of health on the global community. There are many social element of health have had some considerable impact on the health equity hence need to be discussed. Health is a human rights and this is one of the elements that have been challenged by those criticizing globalization. Human have the tight to get the best quality of healthcare services attainable including other relevant services to it. Children are more prone to health complications. As a social determinant of what healthcare impacts on people, early life in development of any human being is very critical. In this sense, this paper shall address ‘early life’ as it has been impacted upon by globalization, justification of the importance of early life to growth and development and the importance of early life in this context.

Impact of Globalization on Early Life

A study by the UNICEF has indicated that on average, the world organizations and governments though not though not all of them have developed policies that have largely resulted in deterioration of the basic indicators of child health services for instance child survival, education, infant mortality and nutrition. There is also poor access to these determinants in that accessibility or availability of food and other social services is poor. The way government spend was directly connected to these factors, in that three is marked reduction on expenditure on the basic determinants like food subsidies, water, sewage child care and education (Anderson, 2003 p.32).

As the millennium begun, one of the crucial factors of the millennium development objectives was to reduce childhood mortality. Health was the underlying factor that builds social influences among them child poverty, under-nourishment and also environmental vulnerability (Macdonald, 2005 p.1)

Early life is very important to any individual and hence childhood has to be protected by all mean so that children can have the best of it as they grow up. However, has not been the case and as result children tend to have unequal physical, persona and social resources that are necessary for identification and achievement of personal aspirations and then satisfy their needs or adapt to the environment. On a narrower perspective, these factors determine whether a child will be ill or not, or whether a person stays health or not.

Child Poverty

Poverty is defined in terms of the economic conditions of the said person or community regarding their ability to meet daily basic requirements like food, shelter and clothing. Poverty has always been a global problem and as a result, many nations have been addressing these issues to try and offer solution which include policies of poverty eradication and increasing economic growth rates. The countries that are affected most by poverty are the developing countries where in certain rural communities people survive with less than a dollar per day. More reforms have been made all over the world with major economic policy changes that were aimed at reducing inflation rates and increase income per capita. The development of technology has been a major contributor to improved economy and the opening up of markets (free market organizations) has expanded the market for the industrial products. Many countries that were poor are now experiencing a faster growth in economy and are competing with developed countries like the US. Early life in poverty stricken areas is usually not pleasant one since the children there do not achieve their full potential as they would have due to the underlying poverty. This is because accessing basic needs is not easy, children suffer malnutrition, and some even get to extremities of dying because of lack of food. Some families are unable to afford education even at the very basic level of primary education. In this way child development is adversely affected. Children end up suffering stress, loosing self esteem and get demoralized (Irwin, 2007 p.99). The outcome of this is failed output in terms of education performance among other achievements necessary for growth.

Social Inequality

The social inequality is a major problem that heightens the level of poverty in many countries, and it originates from the notion implied by some culture about the relative worth of different classes of people as in ethnicity, sex and social group. The endorsed inequality put people in different social classes at birth mostly based on religion, ethnicity, race and gender. Social inequality described the gap between the affluent members of the society and the underprivileged. This is one of the major health determinant issue in the world today and has been very significant even more that poverty aspects. As these differences increases, the quality of healthcare services has been observed to decline. Social inequality as a socio-economic problem has been handled with certain policies that have seen some improvement though but this has not improved health for early age life for children in a considerable manner (Irwin, 2007 p.99). The trends seen in nations that suffer from poverty, shows that there is an economic gap between the rich and the poor and this is attributed to the poor economic policies and corruption among the government officials.

The government policies play a central role in solving such problems and they have to be practical for them to work out. Social inequality is not entirely in developing countries alone, in the US, it is a problem despite the development in modern technology. There are families which go hungry for a day since they cannot afford food and those that cannot afford any form of health cover (Wilkinson, 2008 p.99). This is why healthcare program has been a very big problem for the US. On the other hand, families that are rich can easily afford the type of care that they want and children from such families enjoy these benefits and they early life is better meaning that they have better health condition, they can learn properly as they are not worried. This way they are likely to perform better in school.

Closely related to the problems of social inequalities, the social status affects almost every individual. People tend to associate with certain classes and adopt certain lifestyles in the end. This has hand mixed impact on health. Among those on the lowest social classes, it’s been found that they tend to face the risk of suffering serious sickness at least two times in a week. Such communities also experience immature deaths. Though not limited to the poor, it’s very common among people with low income or no income compared to other social strata (Friendly, 2004 p.99)


Education is a critical factor in early life development and risk of health later on in life. When there is poor development during the feta stages, that there is very high risk in health condition of and individual later on as he/she grows. Low birth weight has in most case been linked to development of diabetes in future. On social grounds, many women who are poor tend to give birth to children with low birth weight. The rates are at least 9% compared to 4% from women who are with stable income.

When in their early life, especially infancy and the earliest childhood, children are found to be experiencing the most crucial mental, physical, and emotional development. However in the event that there will be insecure emotional connection and minimal stimulation, then these children will be less prepared for schooling and are likely to suffer behaviour problems. Very high quality services for child care are always able to reduce these inadequacies (Friendly, 2004 p.8) Cerebral and social stimulation usually encourages better and faster development of cognitive and social competence.

Social support is another critical factor in achieving better childhood development. In most cases, when the society id supportive, people help each other eighth emotionally and also provide physical, resources that are necessary for attaining better health. On the other hand, social isolation results in seclusion from health social amenities and this in most cases has resulted in premature deaths, adverse complications during pregnancies and higher rates of chronic sicknesses or disabilities.

Food security is a major factor in health during early life. Basically, good health is build by elements such as balanced diet and ample food supply. However when there is shortage of food or a deficit in variety, then malnutrition ensues with a number of deficiency problems.

The type of food that the poor people can afford is usually not very nutritious because they tend to depend on cheap and low quality food cheaply accessible and which has fewer calories and is not properly processed. Statistics from the NCH revealed that mothers in affected areas often stay without food while working to meet their children’s’ basic needs especially during school holidays when the children cannot benefit from the free meals given at school (Friendly, 2004 p.9). Contrary to expectations, the families in the rural are the most affected by this problem, yet this is where the farms/lands for cultivation are found. Developing countries hence sometimes have to depend on donation to feed their populations. The families cannot afford or even access the decent and well processed food as those families in the urban areas. There is a strong correlation between malnutrition, early childhood crimes and problems of street children (Marmot, 2006 p.1099). This character is an implication that children in poor families are likely to suffer juvenile delinquency, school dropout and homelessness compared to children from developed nation’s families.

Food for the affluent society y impacts on health in a different way. It’s been realized that children from rich families are increasingly suffering from childhood obesity while adults are having cardiovascular problems at rates which have never been seen before. This increase can mainly be attributed to the lifestyle especially food. There are a lot of junk food shops and store and its consumptions very high due to convenient. However health wise these foods are very dangerous. Since obesity is a risk factor to problems such hypertension it’s very important that children at young age should not be exposed to the risk by being fed on also of fast foods. Fast foods is being as fashionable worldwide and there are more and more fast food cafes opening up everyday meaning tat people are no longer eating healthy.


Employment is usually a sign that a family or an individual is at least earning a living form somewhere and usually builds confidence in society to achieve even greater heights of development. Unemployment could be the cause of serious condition of poverty (Marmot, 2006 p.1099). This connection is twisted though poor people can solve unemployment problems and combat poverty at the same time.

Employment means that general people will be able; to access better healthcare. Nonetheless, the other side of the cone shows that those people employed usually suffer stress and some lack time to take care of their children (Wilkinson, 2008 p.99). The childhood development of a child is hence deficient of that parental mentoring. Worldwide statistics indicate that about a third of the working women aged 25-45 years are fulltime workers and with children to take care of. 26% of married men and 38% married and/or single women are stressed because of work according to Canadian research. These parents hence do not concentrate on the wellbeing of their children meaning that their psychological problems impact on their children as well.

The unemployed families suffer financial and subsequently psychological problems. They hence also experience anxiety problems and even depression which could precipitate to heart diseases (McEwen, 2003 p.149).

Infrastructure is another import social aspect of healthcare that has often ha d an impact on early life development. The social infrastructure in question includes schools, health facilities, drainage, sanitation, and water supply and housing facilities. The 2000 Official World Health statistics indicated that over 80% of the people who lived in urban areas in Asia, Africa, and South America were sufficiently provided with water, only about a third did not have appropriate sanitation and three fifths were not served with a sewage system. Governments usually underestimate the fraction of people who inhabit the town centres and need to be served with piped water and there is so much difference about the description of ‘adequate. The insufficient water supply and sanitation services may put up more restriction on families and especially the women because they take so much conscientiousness for household tasks that involve water.

Research basically finds that infrastructure capital has an affirmative effect on trade and industry growth and output in developing countries. The ability to access a range of primary infrastructure services like clean water, sanitation is regularly considered as a gauge of social and economic well-being (Marmot, 2006 p.1099) There service of infrastructure and other related facilities can be decrease poverty via health improvements for instance by recuperating water and sanitation which reduces the incidence of sickness and related lack of production.

Health Importance of Early Life

Social health determinants are very pertinent to the wellbeing of individuals and they way a person lives hi or her early life needs to be in a way that enhances development. Basically during early life, biological development and mental wellbeing is mostly dependent on the quality and type of stimulation that the individual gets. This could be at family, society or international level. The early life experiences then form life long health determinant including even learning ability. Taken in concert, these elements make up elements that make childhood a social factor that determine health of an individual.

Early childhood life can be made in to impact in the children the best attitude to grow up with and thrive in good physical, mental and social condition. As a study of early life development has indicated that children are able to start creating safe, cohesive and active neighbourhoods for their convenience. As early as the age of six, children increase their social comparison and begin to appreciate or recognize other people’s perspective of the environment and events and this greatly affects how the child relates to other people and peers (Marmot, 2006 p.1099). Having all these in mind, early interventions can be made when some mistakes or delays are observed. For instance, the early detection of majority of the hearing impairments can be employed. This will then enhance the application of intervention aimed at correcting the problem thereby avoiding the chances of serious impairment in the development of language. On the other hand, growth and development defect due to congenital factors or premature birth can be addressed by use of appropriate measures to help the children function properly as their peers.

The children should hence be provided with safe environments which are appropriate for the normal and healthy growth, sensory rich surroundings so that the children can explore the environment, events and other objects. Since language development is the major factor here, teaching and communicating with the children regularly enhances their verbal communication skills. The development of motor skills can b enhanced at this stage by involving the children in activities such as skipping, running, playing football use of simple machines like scissors, and building complex structures using blocks. The children should also be encouraged to build up their competence in general self care skills and personal cleanliness (hygiene) for better health (Blane, 1996 p.30).

Globalization impact has been that in order to be able to improve the way children develop, the international community should consistently improve the conditions in which children are nurtured through by families in terms of addressing the economic problems, work, health, children needs and information.

Early childhood usually exposes the barriers that have blocked children from attain their full potential in development. And as such services or programs need to be removed. For instance, since poverty is a major problem that exposes children to health hazards and other social problems, there is dire need to be a means of alleviating this problem so as to solve other problems as well (Blane, 1996 p.30). Such measure will include the creation of productive employment opportunities that can accommodate a larger population. Some of the means of creating jobs include investing in agriculture labour oriented industries and encouraging the higher productivity occupation. The poor families should be educated and provided with affordable vocational training that will allow them get the opportunity to work and give out their maximum potential and expand the economy. As diverse as the causes and effects of poverty are, so should be the solutions to poverty or the means to alleviate poverty. Children just need exciting, fostering, encouraging environment even when parents are not around. When high quality care is given, children attain better health and this is directly linked to future success.

Early childhood development is considered to be the cornerstone of individual progress and it should be central on ho a successful society is created. In this regards, assessing the state of early life with another comparable approach all over the world often brings out the means for societies to evaluate their success. Then success of a child during development is a partnership on global, national and family level. The international community, through the impact of globalization, now agrees that early life and basic children progress are not conflicting programs in the financing of global development though this is yet to be reflected. Early life is easy to comprehend as a social factor in health since when there is better childhood life, better health is not only guaranteed but there is also high chances that the society will have productive labour source in future, there is reduction in juvenile crime and subsequent expenses of justice systems and other strains on the society. International fiscal and financing organizations are hence realizing that spending on early life development is a big investment which should be incorporates in international policies.

Importance of Social Determinants of Health in this Context

The first years of development are considered very critical to any human being since this really life has a direct connection to future life. According to scientific researches, children have certain need that are a must have for them while at the same time there are some thing that they need a lot of protection from so as to be able to promote their growth in terms of health and other aspects (Hartzman, 2000 p.86). This mean that when there is staple, receptive, cultivation relationships and rich knowledge interaction in early life create life long benefits in learning, character development and also mental and physical growth. Cases of stress in children have bee found to result from serious adversities including abject poverty, neglect and abuse and this can serious damage or weaken the way brain develops (Brunner, 1997 p.1472).

Early life development is crucial in that for a ling time, brains are built from bottom to top in a continuous process right before birth through childhood to adulthood. Through serve and return, children develop some strong bond with their mothers (parents) or caregivers in the community. Young children learn reactions and interactions via faucal expressions, babbling and gestures as they interact with adults. The brain has the capacity to change though this decreased with age. In early life, it’s most flexible and can therefore accommodate numerous information and situations. As it matures, it assumes greater and compels functions and is less likely to reorganize and adapt to new challenges (Marmot, 2006 p.1099).

In early childhood, playing is usually their right and all children can do with free time is to play. It’s been proved that this is also a very important stage of someone’s life and has positive outcomes on health. Playful children are always fit, they growth strong in physical stature and their brains develop faster as they engage in even more complex games. What the children go through while young will have a very big impact on the way they act in their adult life. Jean Piaget came up with the most cited explanation of the cognitive theory, in his description; Piaget suggests that children undergo specific stages of development as they develop their intelligence and capacity to understand that relationships mature. The stages come in a fixed order and each stage is defined by specific characteristics. Play is usually pivotal for these developments.


It is the duty of human beings to ensure that the next generation with thrives well. In the same spirit, the international community are influences by the process of globalization are ensuring that early life for every child regardless of the community they thrive in is of good quality. Governments can work hard to inspire even greater change. The WHO and other organization are constantly monitoring the early life development in various nations to make international comparisons to identify the glaring variations in these patterns across nations. The data is considered immensely useful in determining society capacity and creating strategic policies and leading advocacy. A Globalized way of achieving better health for children has been through actualization of the children rights particularly very early life.


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