Social determinants of health (SDH) broadly refer to the conditions in which people are born, live, work and age. These consist of a number of overlapping factors that determine health and wellbeing. Using the ten categories of the ‘SDH Assessment Circle’ as a guide (McMurray & Clendon, 2015, pp. 55-58), describe the health of a community of your choice. You may choose 5 SDHs to discuss in your report.
For individuals who are new to a specific community, serving effectively and providing efficient services can become a challenging task, if no information related to a specific community is available. Information about the community health and wellness and specifications about the demographics, health status, genetic specifications etc pertaining to a community is important and such information helps the health workers and nurses to devise ideal strategies for designing and serving comprehensive welfare.
For the purpose of this paper, Maori community of Australia, have been selected on whom the 10 principles of SDH Assessment Circle will be implemented. Due to the restricted scope of this paper, only 5 SDH principles will be explored in relation to Maori community and such are – biology & genetic characteristics; healthy child development; employment and working conditions; health practices and coping skills and lastly health services and resources.
The pacific communities present in Australia, have a very long association with the country and are a part of its identification with that of the Oceania region. With the majority communities migrating through the different multicultural policies established in 1960s, there are as many as 23 pacific communities existing in Australia as of bow. Maori population in Australia is 128,430 as per 2011 statistics (UWS, 2011). Though the origin of Maori population is from New Zealand, the existence of such community in Australia is large.
The SDH Assessment Circle consists of 10 overlapping categories, which all depict the social determinants of the health of the communities. This framework devised by McMurray and Clendon, incorporates the elements of a community assessment, the social epidemiological information and overall epidemiological data in one holistic framework (McMurray & Clendon, 2015).
Biology, genetic characteristics
Maori Australians are Australian nationals having Maori heritage, and they comprise the largest Polynesian group existing in Australia. It was found from a recent study, that, the average Maori life expectancy is 8 years shorter than a non-Maori individual. Explanation of such phenomenon is complex and has correlations with other social aspects – education, wealth etc and the potential impact which a century and a half colonization initiatives left on such a community. Maori population has been recently tagged with a “warrior gene” dispute, which claimed to attribute to the plausible violent behaviour of the Maori individuals. As per recent reports of media, genetic researchers have highlighted Maori community individuals are more predisposed to commit various acts of violence (Whittle, 2016).
Healthy Child Development
The majority of the parents belonging to Maori community rated their own ability to get along with other families as excellent and the most common types of disciplines used in Maori households though were – verbal admonition, but there is a higher chance of physical punishment for Maori children in comparison to non-Maori households. The Maori children were more likely to experience second hand smoke in comparison to non Maori ones. The Maori children are generally mainly breastfed, and have twice the chances of getting solids before turning 4 months of age. Maori children belonging to school age were less likely to eat breakfast at home, and were more likely to consume fast food and carbonated fizzy drinks than non –Maori children of that age. These children (Maori) were more likely to be diagnosed by doctors with a chronic ailment and were more likely to suffer from medicated asthma. They were also more likely to severe episodes of asthma. Obesity is another tendency observed in more Maori children (Health.Govt.NZ, 2018). Hence, the health aspects of Maori children and the child development need special attention from the Australian government.
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Employment & Working Conditions
The origin of Maori community is in New Zealand, but with time, and apparent belief that the employment opportunities of Australia are more lucrative, every year a large section of Maori community moves to Australia. Higher income was the sole motivator for these Maori individuals to move in Australia, and for the majority of them, it actually has worked out for their benefits. 87% of the Maori population in Australia highlighted that they have better working conditions now and employment opportunities were definitely more lucrative (Health.QLD, 2018). In Queensland, high numbers of Maori community lives in the suburbs with lower socio-economic characteristics.
Health services, resources
Maori communities are collectivist in their cultures and hence, they have a high reliance on their own family and social group for health care, patient care and support. This often becomes a barrier in utilizing the governmental health services. For minor health problems, family or the social unit takes care of such, and for only emergencies the health services of the government are required (Mark, Chamberlain, & Boulton, 2017). The barriers which act significantly in cases of Maori individuals to access the health services lie in language gaps, differences in the culture, stigma, communication challenges and lack of adequate information.
Health practices, coping skills
The concept of family in Maori culture is very significant and this is central to the entire social structure. Good health is observed by the Maori as a balance between mental, family (social) and physical dimensions. These individuals view their own health to be communicated with the health of their families, and the larger social groups. Concerned about individual aspects is seen as an unhealthy practice, and the communal wellbeing is more focused (Banwell, Ulijaszek, & Dixon, 2013). Involvement of the extended family in taking care of the ill is encouraged and looked with appreciation in the Maori community, and nursing and healthcare staffs that have cared for Maori patients, become almost kin by association (Queensland Health, 2015). Traditional medicine is practiced by Maori and this is used as a complementary aspect with that of the Australian medicine.
It was evident while conducting this paper, was thorough knowledge about the Maori population of Australia is not established. For a healthcare worker, intending to treat a community like Maori, should be aware of all the characteristics and barriers to health in order to provide holistic care for the safety and wellbeing of these individuals.
Banwell, C., Ulijaszek, S., & Dixon, J. (2013). When Culture Impacts Health: Global Lessons for Effective Health Research (Vol. 33). Sydney: Academic Press.
Health.Govt.NZ. (2018). A Focus on the Health of M?ori and Pacific Children. Retrieved March 16, 2018, from Health: https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/focus-on-health-maori-pacific-children.pdf
Health.QLD. (2018). Maori Australians. Retrieved March 16, 2018, from Health: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0027/155817/maori2011.pdf
Mark, G., Chamberlain, K., & Boulton, A. (2017). Acknowledging the M?ori cultural values and beliefs embedded in rongo? M?ori healing. International Journal of Indigenous Health , 12 (1), 75-92.
McMurray, A., & Clendon, J. (2015). Community HEalth & Wellness - E-Book : Primary Health care in PRactice. Sydney: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Queensland Health. (2015). The Health of Queensland's Maori Population 2009. Brisbane: Division of the Chief Health OFficer, Queensland HEalth.
UWS. (2011). Pacific Communities in Australia. Retrieved March 16, 2018, from University of Western Sydney: http://www.uws.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/923361/SSP5680_Pacific_Communities_in_Aust_FA_LR.pdf
Whittle, M. (2016). Health, inequality and the politics of genes. Auckland: NZMA.