Sample Social Work and Human Services Essay Paper on Health, Environment, and the Burden of Disease

            Environmental health entails taking care of the surroundings to promote well-being. Most diseases that affect humans result from their interaction with the environment. Professionals in the field of environmental health focus on controlling illness risks by encouraging proper care of the environment. Some of the services that environmental health professionals provide include hygiene and sanitation promotion, solid waste management, food inspection, applying building regulation, and promoting road safety.

Interesting Facts

The most significant cause of morbidity and mortality is diarrheal diseases. These illnesses result from the inadequate supply of safe water, poor disposal of waste, and issues related to household hygiene. Approximately 99.8% of these cases occur in developing countries. However, most diarrheal diseases are preventable, for instance, through proper waste management and supply of clean water.  Indeed, these measures are easier to take than those of averting the more serious conditions such as cardiovascular illnesses and cancer (Cairncross, O’Neill, and McRoy 7-9). Interventions for people affected by environmental health issues must meet the AFASS (Acceptable, Feasible, Affordable, Sustainable, and Safe) criteria to promote their sustainability.

            The three common environmental health issues associated with diseases include water, sanitation and hygiene, indoor air pollution, and injuries. The illnesses or conditions that are related to these environmental health issues are diarrheal diseases caused by water, sanitation and hygiene, lower respiratory tract infections caused by, indoor air pollution, and road accidents, falls, burns, and drowning (Cairncross, O’Neill, and McRoy 12). Proper care should be taken to prevent these problems.

            An assessment of diarrheal incidents that relate to sanitation practices showed that use of toilets was associated with a decreased rate of diarrhea. The use of sewers and drainage facilities was also associated with reduced instances of diarrheal infections. Latrines use, and promotion of hygiene practices was found to be the highest contributors to the reduction of diarrheal incidents (Cairncross, O’Neill, and McRoy 18-20). Aside from causing respiratory infections, indoor air pollution also contributes to injuries, such as burns caused by a source of energy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancers, and increased risk of giving birth to low birth weight babies (Cairncross, O’Neill, and McRoy 25). Ninety-eight percent of childhood deaths are recorded in low and middle-income homes. These deaths may be associated with clutter, inadequate living space, and burns.

            The detrimental effects of indoor air pollution are made worse by cases of malnutrition, poor sanitation, and the inability to access proper healthcare services (Cairncross, O’Neill, and McRoy 36). Addressing the millennial development goals can help in solving most of the environmental health concerns (Cairncross, O’Neill, and McRoy 47). For example, the eradication of extreme poverty can break disease cycles and promote the achievement of other millennial goals.

Initial Thoughts

            I thought the article would address the improvement and technological advances that have been made in recent years to improve health, environment, and the burden of diseases. Over the years, national and international cases of disease epidemics have decreased due to better research and intervention practices. I also expected the article to focus on immunization practices to reduce the burden of diseases among vulnerable groups.

            Environmental health concerns are part of an interrelated complex cycle; one issue contributes to the detrimental of the other factors. An example is a community with poor sanitation, inability to access proper healthcare and adequate food is affected by malnutrition (under-nutrition), which in turn contributes to the failure to improve their environment. Hence, it is imperative for environmental health to be approached comprehensively. For instance, solving economic issues trigger a reduction in the rate of the mentioned infections.

Work Cited

Cairncross, Sandy, et al. Health, Environment and the Burden of Disease; A Guidance Note. Department for International Development. February 2003.