Good health can be defined as a state of complete mental, social, and physical well-being. That is to say, the absence of disease or infirmity does not necessarily mean that a person is healthy (Maurer & Smith, 2013). An individual may seem okay physically but be predisposed to conditions that impact negatively on their mental or social well-being, thus making them vulnerable or at risk of poor health. In this regard, it important for health care providers and professional to work towards ensuring the overall well-being of individuals within a given community. It is in the light of this context that this paper evaluates the difference between a group that is at risk of poor health and one that is considered to be a vulnerable population. It will also evaluate some of the challenges that these groups face and how the issues can be addressed effectively.
A vulnerable population can be defined as a group of persons within a given community who are more likely than others to suffer from poor health due to their age, economic status, and race, just to mention. Examples of vulnerable groups in the U.S include the elderly, rural area residents, and immigrants, just to mention. On the other hand, a group at risk of poor health refers to individuals with an identifiable common risk factor or exposure to a risk element that poses a risk to their well-being (Aday, 2012). For instance, individuals with obesity are at a higher risk of developing other health complications such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart problems, just to mention. As a result, it is important for health care providers and policymakers to identify the needs of each group to resolve the issues more efficiently.
Immigrants continue to face substantial challenges in accessing health care despite the efforts by the government to eliminate health care disparities in America. Studies have pointed out that more than 5 million immigrants living in the U.S are uninsured and are, therefore, not able to access health care services (Derose, Escarce, & Lurie, 2014). Additionally, a significant number of them are unemployed or have a low-income paying job which makes it difficult for them to afford medication or health care services. As a result, the majority of them suffer from curable and preventable diseases due to financial challenges and lack of insurance coverage. Moreover, research has pointed out that the number of immigrants who die from preventable diseases is higher compared to their counterparts living in the U.S (Aday, 2012). It is in this respect that immigrants are considered to be one of the vulnerable groups living in America.
Individuals living in rural areas in America experience more challenges in accessing health care compared to their counterparts in the urban areas. Research has shown that the number of physicians in rural areas is much lower compared to those in urban areas despite the fact that there are over 60 million people living in rural America (Rine, 2010). One recent study revealed that there are less than 33 care physicians per 100, 000 rural residents in some states (Rine, 2010). Additionally, the study found out that the quality of health care in those states was much lower compared to that in urban areas (Rine, 2010). As a result, most residents in these areas suffer from preventable diseases due to poor medication or lack of access to timely treatment. Moreover, majority of them are poor and uninsured and are, therefore not able to afford medication or private treatment, thus making them more vulnerable and at higher risk of developing chronic illnesses.
Advocating for the health needs of immigrants and individuals living in the rural areas of America can lead to significant positive health outcomes. For instance, it will minimize the number of deaths and disability caused by curable and preventable diseases in the country (Aday, 2012). It will also make it possible for persons to access medication and timely treatment. Additionally, it will provide families and patients from these groups an opportunity to learn how to manage their health effectively through patient education and thus reduce the amount of money spent in treating preventable diseases (Derose et al., 2014). Moreover, it will enhance the health of this population and improve their level of productivity, thus enabling them to provide for their families. In this regard, lobbying for this group will not only benefit the immigrants and persons living in rural areas, but also improve the economic status of the country in the long run.
There are various issues that I will advocate for with regard to the health needs of immigrants and persons living in rural America. First, I will propose the implementation of health policies to allow the uninsured population to access medication and health care services. Secondly, I will advocate for the deployment of more health care professionals in the rural areas to serve the health needs of individuals living in those areas (Maurer & Smith, 2013)). Thirdly, I will recommend the training of more health care practitioners to address the problem of inadequate care providers and untimely treatment in the country. Lastly, I will propose the use of health camps to reach out to the poor and uninsured population who are not able to access treatment due to financial constraints and distance barriers, among other challenges.
Various ethical issues that needs to be considered when working with immigrants and individuals living in the rural areas. For instance, health care providers must provide their patients with enough information to enable them to make an informed decision concerning their health before receiving any treatment (Maurer & Smith, 2013)). In other words, the information is intended to make sure that patients understand the nature of their treatment and that their decisions respected. The second ethical aspect that needs to be addressed is beneficence. It entails putting the interest of patients first and ensuring their wellbeing (Rine, 2010). For instance, a patient in desperate need of medical help should not be denied treatment simply because they cannot afford it or are uninsured. Lastly, health care professionals should ensure that they respect the cultural practices, beliefs, and values of their patients to avoid any conflicts or ethical issues.
Persons with obesity are considered to be at a higher risk of developing other health complications due to the nature of their ailment. Studies have pointed out that America has the largest population of people living with obesity in the world (Aday, 2012). That is to say, over 37 percent of adults in the U.S are obese. Some of the risk factors for obesity include inactivity, poor eating habits, and genetics, among other aspects. On the other hand, examples health issues that are commonly associated with obesity include hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, just to mention (Maurer & Smith, 2013). In this regard, it is important for patients with obesity to manage their risk factors, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and adhere to their doctors instructions.
In conclusion, the overall health and welfare of patients and communities is an aspect that should be prioritized by every nation. In this case, policymakers, health care providers, and professionals should work towards ensuring that everyone has access to health care and are not exposed to conditions that make them vulnerable to poor health. Moreover, they should evaluate and identify existing gaps in the health care system and resolve some of the issues facing vulnerable populations and those at risk of poor health.
Aday, L. A. (2012). At risk in America: The health and health care needs of vulnerable populations in the United States (Vol. 13). John Wiley & Sons.
Derose, K. P., Escarce, J. J., & Lurie, N. (2014). Immigrants and health care: sources of vulnerability. Health affairs, 26(5), 1258-1268.
http://lc.gcumedia.com/zwebassets/courseMaterialPages/nr5427v_nr5427v.phpMaurer, F. A., & Smith, C. M. (2013). Community/public health nursing practice: Health for families and populations. Elsevier Health Sciences.
Rine, C. M. (2010). Unnatural causes: is inequality making us sick?. Health and Social Work, 35(3), 229.
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