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Environment and Health

Environment and Health

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Published by badaseneviratne
a book on the health environment of Sri lanka, with some basic principles of health geography written for B.A. Special Environmental management students at rajarata university of Sri lanka, mihinthale
a book on the health environment of Sri lanka, with some basic principles of health geography written for B.A. Special Environmental management students at rajarata university of Sri lanka, mihinthale

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Published by: badaseneviratne on Oct 04, 2010
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04/09/2012

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Chapter 1Environment and HealthEnvironment in this book refers to the natural and manmadeelements and factors which affect health of an individual. Asthere are many books and publications on the general healthenvironment of the world this book will draw elements andfactors from the tropical environment with specific examplesfrom Sri Lanka. Tropical environments of the world aregenerally identified as warm and underdeveloped. The naturalenvironment of Sri Lanka is identified as tropical and thesocietal environment is defined as developing. The tropicalenvironment has its own systems of health and disease and thedeveloping countries in the tropical environment are subjectedto poor health environment due to prevailing corruption and poverty.A discussion on environment and health within the context of environmental management cannot be discussed withoutreferring to development as health status is a product of level of development of a society. When the development is properlyconducted there is a status of good health and unplanneddevelopment results in the formation of a poor health status.Environmental Management perspective of Environment andHealthIn a study of environment and health it can be argued that themanaged environment has a higher level of health than theunmanaged environment. The managed environment has a wellorganised habitat and a population governed by behaviour suitable for the sustenance of that habitat. This type of environment is more secure and long-lasting than anunmanaged environment. The unmanaged environment is inchaos with no cohesion between habitat, population and behaviour, which is constantly troubled by poverty and disease.1
 
Health began in the domain of culture and medicine originatedfrom healing. Health was identified as “ being well”, “lack of disease” or “no illness” (the conception of illness as
dis-ease
isderived from the old French word
aise
meaning ‘comfort’).Medically, health can be defined as “not sick”, but even themodern definitions of health cannot be neutral as even theconcepts of medicine are constantly influenced by metaphors of the society which it is situated. However, health is a “state of freedom” or “being well”, which is a stage of management.Though medicine became secular and highly influenced bymodern discourses, it is not totally free from culture. Then it isthis medicine-culture connection which is important in thestudy of environment and health within environmentalmanagement. This is because the need for environmentalmanagement is higher than ever in the history of man as hishabitat is threatened by many known and unknown forces of human development.There is enough evidence that management of environment hasreduced the threat of disease in the old kingdoms and empiresand once this balance was destroyed there was chaos (Page 55).Modern developed world provide ample examples to the needfor environmental management for the reduction of healththreats.The Health Belief Model identifies the validity of personalenvironmental factors like level of concern, motivation and previous experience (Rosenstock 1965), in behaviour whichresult from the evolution of the living environment of anindividual. This living environment varies over space and time but the level of management at each step shapes the behaviour.Theory of Reasoned Action (Fishbein 1967), the Theory of Planned Behaviour (Ajzen 1985), and the Health ActionProcess (Schwarzer 1992), have developed and clarified theHealth belief Model but the importance of personalenvironmental factors remained unchanged.The most important part of environment and health is therelationship between social factors and health. Social factorsare generally associated with environmental management because it is the society which decides the process of 2
 
management required by them. The relationship between poverty and health was discussed in Marx(Doyal 1979; Navarro 1976), when Engels observed the closerelationship between the distribution of poverty and thedistribution of illness. The strict management of theenvironment was also required both in the capitalist Marxistand Socialist Marxist state. Both these groups of states haveachieved higher levels of environmental management andhealth.HealthHealth is commonly known as “
not sick, staying fit or I amOK 
”. It is commonly known that good health is a complete physical, mental and social fitness. World Health Organisation(WHO) defines health as “a status of complete, physical,mental and social-well being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”, which is linked to socio-political aimsand objectives of the organisation, but difficult to achieve.This book is written for the purpose of providing informationon the health environment of developing countries and to storeinformation on the local environment (Sri Lanka), which will be used as teaching and reference material for studentsfollowing the courses related to environment and health atUniversity of Rajarata Sri Lanka.This course taught within Environmental Management usesapproaches from Medical Geography and Health Geography,which are widely taught disciplines in the developed world.These researchers from the developed countries are engaged indetailed research on the relationship between environment andhealth as this form of knowledge is required to preventepidemics which may affect developed world in an age of highmobility of populations. In addition drug manufacturers in thedeveloped world support the study of environment and health,as they conduct all the fundamental research on futurerequirement of drugs.Health in a developing country3

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