Health disparities among persons of different nationalities in the US is a well-researched subject. For a long time, studies have been conducted by institutions to identify the impact of race and ethnicity on health and mortality. According to the US Health Resources and Services Administration, health disparities are defined as “population-specific differences in the presence of disease, health outcomes, or access to health care”.
Certain health disparities are considered preventable, while others are not. Preventable disparities are usually linked with income, education, nutrition and lifestyle, while non-preventable disparities are linked with age and similar non-preventable factors.
Genetics is known to play an essential role in predicting certain diseases and health conditions. Studies show that certain diseases are more prevalent in specific populations than others.
For example, people of African and Mediterranean descent are more likely to suffer from sickle-cell disease. In the same way, Europeans are known to be more susceptible to cystic fibrosis and hemochromatosis than the populations in other parts of the world.
Health Disparities in Different Nationalities Caused by Limited Access to Health Care
A number of racial groups experience structural, cultural and linguistic barriers, which make it difficult for them to access health care services easily. People living in areas marked by low socioeconomic status are also more likely to suffer from poor health and specific disease related to nutrition or vitamin deficiencies.
Many areas in the US where minorities of lower socioeconomic status reside do not have supermarkets close by. These areas, known as food deserts, would usually have inexpensive, fast food available for the population.
As a result, people in these areas are more likely to suffer from obesity and diseases related to obesity like kidney disease, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
Some diseases are common among people of all nationalities, but certain diseases may seem more common among people of specific nationalities because of several factors like social, economic and environmental disadvantages.
Studies have shown that people of different nationalities have different immune systems, which can make a difference in their susceptibility to diseases. The studies showed that people of African ancestry are more likely to have a strong immune system than populations of European ancestry.
These studies prove that people from different nationalities are likely to suffer too from specific diseases, but at the same time, we must factor in other determinants of health, which also play a role in identifying the healthiness of a person and their susceptibility to disease. These determinants of health, according to the World Health Organization, are broadly categorized under the following:
- The social and economic environment
- The person’s individual characteristics and behaviours
- The physical environment
The WHO explains that since a person’s health cannot be determined by their nationality, race, ethnicity or individual behaviour alone, it is wrong to blame a person for having poor health. Many health determinants are not in control of the person suffering from the disease. There are only certain preventive measures which can help a person reduce their risk to a health condition.
Students studying abroad will often notice that they are more susceptible to certain diseases than their counterparts who belong to the same country. This is because of the many environmental and social changes you experience, including a change in diet. For some people, it takes years to acclimatize to a country, and for others, it can take a very short time.
Many young students also end up experiencing a different lifestyle, which involves eating a lot of inexpensive, fast food, staying up late and trying to cope with studies and health. All of this impacts their immune system and may make them more prone to illnesses like the common cold.
Students who are experiencing stress may also end up with a poor immune system. In the absence of a family, this can worsen, and the student may end up frequently getting sick. This, however, does not define any connection with the nationality of the student and is instead more dependent on the environment, social and individual factors of the student.
Studies related to identifying differences in diseases in people of different nationalities are often difficult to conduct because there are so many other factors to keep in mind.