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Factors affecting societys health and services

Mr. Manasseh Mvula BSc N IV student UNZA

Sociology and Nursing

General objectives

At the end of this lecture, a student should have knowledge on the factors impacting on societys health and services.

Specific Objectives
At the end of this lecture, a student should be able to;
Outline factors that impact on societys health and services. State the important role of a nurse in addressing factors that impact on societys health and services.

A society is an extended social group having a distinctive cultural and economic organization.

It is for this reason therefore that this extended social group has factors that influence its own health and services

Factors influencing societys health and services

This is one of the major factors that impact the societys health and status. On the individual level, unemployment and poverty pose a huge challenge on health in that people find it hard to access health services because of lack of funds. This makes them to access health services only when they are sick.

On the national level, poor economic status has resulted in increased preventable disease burden. This is because the govt. concentrates on curative and not preventive measures. Health facilities are usually inaccessible because of poor road network and long distances.

Religion is defined by many sociologists as a cultural system of common beliefs and rituals that provides the sense of ultimate meaning and purpose by creating an idea of reality that is sacred, all-encompassing and supernatural (Giddens, 2009). In simpler terms, religion is defined as the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.

It is one of the forces that have a major impact on the societys health and services.
E.g. the Zionists do not accept any form of vaccination because they do not believe in modern medicine. This means that cases of preventable diseases will continue to be on the increase.

A way of life of a social group; the groups total man made environment, including all the material and nonmaterial products of group life transmitted from generation to generation (Toit, et al., 2005). Like religion, it has a greater influence on how people will regard health and services. Culture will also influence our health seeking behaviour. Some cultural practices are good but some are very bad, e.g. sexual cleansing.

Relates to the legal system of the society.
Has to do with laws that govern the society. A law is a set of principles, and regulations which are established by an authority or by custom and is enforceable by a legal system such as a court. It differs from an act in that an act is a bill which is acted upon by a legislative body for the purpose of creating a law.

Laws can be constitutional or customary.

They help shape and protect the society sometimes advocate for the rights of citizens.


In Zambia, there has been introduction of several laws in form of acts such as the public health act and the food and drugs act. The consumer act has now discouraged the use of tertrazzine in food stuffs and has instead promoted fortification of commodities like sugar and mealie-meal with vitamin A.

Art or science of govt. or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs. The political will of the society is a single major factor affecting the societys health and services.

Politics determine how much resources should be allocated to the health sector.
If funding is not sufficient, the health sector will not have enough resources to run and will in turn provide substandard care to the people.

is the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially in settings like a school or university.

Educated people are thought to have the ability to practice health promotion activities than people with no education who cannot even read. Ignorant people are less likely to seek preventable care because they cannot understand messages from the media.

Something that somebody believes in or a statement, principle or doctrine that a person or group accepts as true. It is also defined as the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premises to be true.

Beliefs also impact the societys health and services.

Bad beliefs impact negatively on health and services as they tend to discourage health seeking behaviour in the society. E.g. smearing semen on the baby by the father is a bad practice as it predisposes the baby to infections.

Taboos refer to the more serious and compulsory prescriptions (Toit, et al., 2005). They are norms that if disobeyed, the moral integrity of the society may be weakened. Their contravention therefore causes severe shock and anger and is strongly condemned. Some taboos impact negatively on health and services.

In Zambia, it is a taboo for a man to witness his wife delivering.

This deprives a labouring woman of the much needed psychological care.

These are the less serious and less important customary prescriptions. Contravention of folkways does not arouse strong feelings in others, sometimes no more than a raised eyebrow.

They may impact negatively on the society depending on their nature eg, falling pregnant a month after giving birth.

Traditional health practices

These are the most influential practices in the society and tend to either promote or discourage health seeking behaviours.

Some pregnant women in labour are told to take traditional syntocinon to precipitate labour.
This results in complications such as cervical tears and foetal distress. Such practices negatively impact the societys health and services.

Role of a nurse
The most important role of a nurse in addressing such factors firstly is to know the factors themselves. Once they are known, a nurse should not at any time attempt to condemn bad cultural practices for example. A nurse should give adequate health education and counselling so that people know what to do. A nurse should encourage some things that impact societys health and services positively.

Take Home Points

Factors that affect societys health and services are many. These include, but not limited to, culture, socioeconomic status, traditional practices, taboos and legal issues among others. The nurse however plays a very important role in addressing such factors therefore, a nurse should take time to learn and know them so that he/she has the basis for health education.

Ajayi, IFA, Goma, L.K.K and Johnson, G.A (1996) The African experience with higher education London, Giddens A, (2009), Sociology, 6th edition, polity press, Cambridge. John B and Senga B (2004) Sociology and Health Care, 2nd edition, Elsevier Limited, Churchill Livingston Staden S.J and Toit D.A (2000), Nursing sociology, 2nd edition, Van Schaik Publishers, Pretoria


Have a blessed day