Health science and geography correlation
Engr Sabir Hussain
The world is far more globalized than ever before. People can easily come into contact through travel and can live closer to each other. As a result, super-viruses and other infections are transferred and this issue is becoming more and more common. Although, many diseases that affect human beings have been eradicated due to improvement in vaccination and the availability of better healthcare resources, but still there are some diseases and areas where health problems are more prevalent. These problems are often associated with a geographic region and health geography plays a key role to eradicate them by utilizing and mapping available data and using geographic information system (GIS) techniques.
Geographic analysis can assess health concerns of certain population. For instance, depending on where a person lives, a person will not have the same health concern as someone who lives in a different geographical region. One of the most obvious examples of it is malaria-prone areas, which are usually tropical regions that foster warm and damp environment, an ideal location for the growth of mosquitoes which can transfer this disease to people. For addition, malaria is much less of a problem in high altitude deserts.
Similarly, in some countries, geographical factors influence health and well-being of population in very prominent ways. For example, in many large cities, the wind is not strong enough to swap the air containing smog and pollution which in consequences causes asthma, lung problems, eyesight issues and many more complex problems in the local people. In addition to this, the current air index of Lahore is the worst in the world due to high level of smog and local people are facing the said health issues that are clearly geographic associated problems.
Basically, health geography is the combination of geographical analysis along with the health and diseases associated to it. The aim of this hybrid science is to find solutions for common geography-based problems. Furthermore, this study helps us to eradicate certain illnesses, and the prevention of them in others in future. By understanding the way how and why one sicks leads to optimal mode of treatment of illness and diseases specific to certain geographic locations.
Apart from this, health geographers also reveal factors that specify certain individuals or a population more likely to be ill with specific health concerns or disease as compared with the population of another area. In addition, they are usually trained health workers and understand the spreading of diseases among population. The health geographic researchers study the interactions between humans and their environment that could lead to illness such as asthma in the places with high level of pollution. Also, the data obtained is beneficial to map the spread, reasons and frequency of diseases to overcome them in case of their spread or re-emergence in vulnerable population.
Another benefit of health geography is to evaluate the provision of healthcare facilities in a specific region. It enables both government and other relevant organizations to identify the availability or lack of health resources to an individual or population of a given area. In addition, this study helps in accessing the level of healthcare resources available in each geographic area. For example, it may be difficult for the people to get quick medical cure because there is mountain between their village and the nearest hospital. The data obtained through this research acts as a primary source of recommendation in making health policies for international organization, local government bodies and other health institutions.
In conclusion, the field of health geography is often overlooked, but it constitutes a huge correlated area of geography and health. If we understand, how geography affects our health then no matter where in the world we are located, we can better treat diseases, prevent illnesses, and keep people safe and well. The current Covid-19 pandemic is a prominent example of the health geography where it is playing role by mapping the regions based on frequency of cases to locate the high spread areas.
The writer is a satellite engineer by profession. He did B.Sc Electrical Engineering (Telecom) from the COMSATS University, Lahore Campus and M.Phil in Space Science from the University of Punjab, Lahore. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.