The Causes of Vulnerability from the Health Care Perspective
In healthcare, vulnerability is the point at which a particular population or an individual is incapable of coping, resisting, or recuperating from the effect of calamities. A vulnerable population comprises of the economically deprived persons, racial and ethnic minorities, elderly, the homeless, and chronically sick persons (Biedrzycki & Koltun, 2012). The causes of vulnerability vary based on demographics, social status, marginalization, and region among others.
In respect to health, vulnerable populations include people who are either suffering, or are likely to suffer, or on the edge of having health challenges which might limit them from providing for themselves or functioning properly. For example, the elderly may turn too old or very sick to look after their wellbeing. Children often rely on others to serve their needs since they are too young to satisfy their needs. Furthermore, persons diagnosed with incurable ailments are also classified as vulnerable. As their physical wellbeing deteriorates, they become dependent on others.
Most of the mentioned factors act to destabilize the ability for self-protection or weaken access to social protection, delay or complicate the process of recovery, or even expose groups to frequent hazards. Some of the causes of vulnerability include rapid population, development, poverty, food shortage, poor health, low degree education, and gender inequality. Indeed, vulnerable groups or population are usually characterized by high incidence and occurrence rates for certain diseases. The health vulnerability varies and encompasses macroeconomic, natural calamity, health hazards, individual uncertainty and obsessive social expenses (Biedrzycki & Koltun 1–8).
Health Vulnerability as an Intersection of Social Disadvantage and Disease
The social dimensions of vulnerability entail ability of an individual to withstand effects. Some of the groups identified as vulnerable include persons with disabilities, for instance, those diagnosed with intellectual disabilities, the elderly, and people with severe mental illnesses. Studies have started considering the intersections between the vulnerability and social determinants of health. According to Lindsay (291–304), the factors of vulnerability, as well as determinants of health, align making it possible to identify and manage risks. Indeed, the groups that experience health disparity during non-emergency cases and need to building resilience, which would eventually strengthen the ability to mobilize the community to address the disasters.
Biedrzycki, Paul A. “Raisa Koltun. Integration of social determinants of community preparedness and resiliency in 21st-century emergency management planning.” Homel. Secur. Aff (2012) 8, 1–8.
Lindsay, J.R. “The determinants of disaster vulnerability: Achieving sustainable mitigation through population health.” Nat. Hazards, (2003) 28, 291–304