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Human development can be defined as the process of enlarging peoples choices and improving human capabilities the range of things that they can do or be in life and freedoms so they can live a long and healthy life. The encompasses living a healthy life, being educated, having access to resources and being able to participate in decisions that affect their community. Human development considers the following factors as integral:
Equity: Equal opportunities for all. Special emphasis is placed on equity of human development between men and women and various social groups.
Empowerment: Freedom of the people to influence, as the subjects of development, decisions that affect their lives.
Cooperation: Participation and belonging to communities and groups as a means of mutual enrichment and a source of social meaning.
Sustainability: Meeting the needs of today without compromising the ability of satisfying the same by future generations.
Security: Exercise development opportunities freely and safely with confidence that they will not disappear suddenly in the future.
Productivity: Full participation of people in the process of income generation and gainful employment.
Since human lives are of a progressive nature, the UNDP proposed the concept of sustainable human development as an alternative development paradigm. The approach regards people’s well-being as the goal of development. Thus Sustainable human development (SHD) is development that places people at the centre of all development activities. The central purpose of SHD is to create an enabling environment in which all human beings lead secure and creative lives. Sustainable human development is directed towards the promotion of human dignity and the realization of all human rights, economic, social, cultural, civil and political.
The concept of sustainable development originated with the Report of the World Commission on
Environment and Development (WCED), Our Common Future (the Brundtland Report) of 1987
which defined sustainable development as “development which meets the needs of the present
generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Human development is the widening of people’s choices in life. It means having the privilege to choose one’s life direction over another because of preference rather than lack of opportunity. Knowledge, health and longevity, livelihood and political freedom provide its bearers with greater chances for a better life. People who are poor, unhealthy and illiterate simply have fewer choices in life. Sustainable human development is concerned with widening choices of people not only of the present generation, but future generations as well. As such, it aims for the regeneration of the environment and natural resources.
Within this framework, a Human Development Index (HDI) was conceived to serve as measure of how well a country has performed, not only in terms of real income growth, but also in terms of social indicators of people’s ability to lead a long and healthy life, to acquire knowledge and skills, and to have access to the resources needed to afford a decent standard of living. The HDI looks at three outcomes of development: state of health, level of knowledge and skill, and the level of real income.
State of health is reflected in the life expectancy indicator. Life expectancy measures the number of years an infant is expected to live when born in a given year. It best represents and ultimately reflects information on physical safety, nutritional levels, efficacy of health interventions, and other health indicators.
To enhance these factors, countries or regions should guide their development strategies towards the gradual creation of an economic, social, political and cultural environment which enhance individual and social capabilities.
Human development has gone through rapid development over the years. Most people today live longer, are more educated and have more access to goods and services than ever before. Even in economically distressed countries, people’s health and education have improved greatly.
The world’s average HDI increased 18 percent between 1990 and 2010 (41 percent since 1970), reflecting large improvements in life expectancy, school enrolment, literacy and income. Almost all countries benefited. Of the 135 countries in our sample for 1970- 2010 (with 92 percent of the world’s people), only three had a lower HDI in 2010 than in 1970. This clearly indicates that poor countries are catching up with rich countries on the HDI, a convergence that paints a far more optimistic picture than do trends in income, where divergence continues.
One requirement for the achievement of a sustainable human development is a favourable environment. The environment provides the arena within which development of any form can take place. This realization is so crucial that a conducive environment is now considered as a right. This stems from the fact that in stating that “human beings are at the centre of concern for sustainable development” and that they are “entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony and nature”
Under the right to a healthy environment everyone shall have the right to live in a healthy environment and to have access to basic public services. The 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights was the first human rights treaty to expressly recognize the right of “[a]ll peoples” to a “satisfactory environment favourable to their development”. Within Europe , the Organization of Economic and Development (OECD) has stated that a “decent” environment should be recognized as one of the fundamental human rights. Furthermore the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has drafted the Charter on Environmental Rights and Obligations which affirms the fundamental principle that everyone has the right to an environment adequate for general health and well-being.
The fourth and final report of the Special Rapporteur (1994) begins by recapitulating the legal foundations of a right to environment contained in international human rights instruments. It carefully details the impact of environmental degradation on vulnerable groups such as indigenous people, women, children and young people, disabled persons and environmental refugees. It analyses the effects of the environment on the enjoyment of fundamental rights notably: right to self-determination, right to life, right to health, right to food, right to sale and healthy working conditions, right to housing, right to information, right to popular participation, freedom of association, and cultural rights.
A very important component of a favourable environment is its Health status. Without this component the other components necessary for achieving a sustainable human development cannot be attained. It is therefore necessary that all activities which contribute to attaining and maintaining a healthy environment, the most crucial of which is hygiene should be adhered to, to ensure sustainable human development.
Healthy and Hygienic Environment
Health, according to the WHO is defined as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The idea of health is capable of both wide and narrow application, and can be negatively as well as positively defined. This by extension means that we can be in good health and poor health. A lay definition of health, illness and medicine refer to a wide range of events and experiences, and ideas about sicknesses and health. These are bound to contain tensions and contradictions, as well as ambivalence about the role of medical treatments in dealing with them (Williams and Calnan 1996: 17). These contradictions have been a major cause of concern which health providers always try to correct.
The health of individual people and their communities are affected by a wide range of contributory factors. People’s good or bad health is determined by their environment and situations – what is happening and what has happened to them. According to the WHO the following determinants probably have a bigger impact on our health than access and use of health care services:
Socioeconomic status – the higher a person’s socioeconomic status is, the more likely he/she is to enjoy good health. The link is a clear one. Socioeconomic status affects all members of the family, including newborn babies.
Education – people with lower levels of education generally have a higher risk of experiencing poorer health. Their levels of stress will most likely be higher, compared to people with higher academic qualifications. A person with a high level of education will probably have higher self-esteem
Physical environment – if your water is clean and safe, the air you breathe is pure, your workplace is healthy, your house is comfortable and safe, you are more likely to enjoy good health.
Job prospects and employment conditions – if you have a job, statistics show you are more likely to enjoy better health than people who are unemployed. If you have some control over your working conditions your health will benefit too.
Support from people around you – if you have family support, as well as support from friends and your community your chances of enjoying good health are far greater than somebody who has none of these things.
Culture – the traditions and customs of a society and how a family responds to them play an important role in people’s health. The impact could be either good or bad for health. E.g. The tradition of genital mutilation of women has an impact on infection rates and the mental health of millions of girls and women in many countries
Genetic inheritance – people’s longevity, general health, and propensity to certain diseases are partly determined by their genetic makeup.
Children stand a high likelihood of suffering from diseases which their parents suffered from.
What we do and how we manage – what we eat, our physical activity, whether or not we smoke or drink or take drugs, and how we cope with stress play an important role on our physical and mental well-being.
It can be realized from the points above that most of the determinants of health are factors resulting from our behavior as human beings. One key behavior which affects our nation and has been a cause of many epidemics are our habits relating to hygiene. A cursory look around town shows the extent to which filth has engulfed our communities and which has been the cause of outbreaks of Cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases which has resulted in a number of deaths.
For sustainable human development to be achieved therefore the maintaince of a healthy and hygienic environment is key.
Hygiene encompasses conditions or practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease, especially through cleanliness. Diseases resulting from poor hygiene is one of the top three killer diseases in developing countries, claiming the lives of more than three million children a year. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines environment, as it relates to health, as “all the physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person, and all the related behaviors.” Environmental health consists of preventing or controlling disease, injury, and disability related to the interactions between people and their environment. It encompasses the assessment and control of those environmental factors that can potentially affect health. It is targeted towards preventing disease and creating health-supportive environments. This definition excludes behaviour not related to environment, as well as behaviour related to the social and cultural environment, and genetics. The phrase ‘healthy environment’ encompasses many meaning but it is used commonly to refer to the human environment that would result in few risks such as disease or health hazards. It essentially involves utilizing the surrounding conditions with little improving effects upon it.
The WHO has provided 10 facts on how improving environmental sanitation can impact our lives:
Worldwide, 13 million deaths could be prevented every year by making our environments healthier.
In children under the age of five, one third of all disease is caused by the environmental factors such as unsafe water and air pollution.
Every year, the lives of four million children under 5 years – mostly in developing countries – could be saved by preventing environmental risks such as unsafe water and polluted air.
In developing countries, the main environmentally caused diseases are diarrhoeal disease, lower respiratory infections, unintentional injuries, and malaria.
Better environmental management could prevent 40% of deaths from malaria, 41% of deaths from lower respiratory infections, and 94% of deaths from diarrhoeal disease – three of the world’s biggest childhood killers.
In the least developed countries, one third of death and disease is a direct result of environmental causes.
In developed countries, healthier environments could significantly reduce the incidence of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, asthma, lower respiratory infections, musculoskeletal diseases, road traffic injuries, poisonings, and drownings.
Environmental factors influence 85 out of the 102 categories of diseases and injuries listed in The world health report.
Much of this death, illness and disability could be prevented through well targeted interventions such as promoting safe household water storage, better hygiene measures and the use of cleaner and safer fuels.
Other interventions that can make environments healthier include: increasing the safety of buildings; promoting safe, careful use and management of toxic substances at home and in the workplace; and better water resource management.
The above shows how human development can improve through improved environmental hygiene. Improved environmental hygiene can be improved through various means including
Relationship between health n sustainable development
Among the principal remits of the health sector is to safeguard the public’s well-being by ensuring a sound, healthy physical and social environment, one that enables sustainable human development-understood to mean improvement of material conditions to respond to the needs of the present generation without jeopardizing the ability to respond to those of future generations-and that protects the most vulnerable members of society. Towards that end, the health sector collaborates with other sectors-the environment, labor, agriculture, and education, among others. Moreover, it behooves local communities, countries, and the international alliances, each on its own and all together, to both monitor and counter the many causes of environmental degradation. Inequities-in education, employment, health, and political rights-affect individuals’ susceptibility to environmental impacts and can result in significant dis- ease and death. Other influences include globalization, governmental reforms, the privatization of services, the vagaries of the labor market, and uncontrolled urbanization. A consensus prevails that sustainable human development depends on reducing poverty while protecting and promoting health.
A case in point is water and sanitation: as urban populations increase, so too does the demand for drinking water and sewage and solid waste disposal services. Dispari- ties between urban-center and urban-periphery populations and between urban and rural populations in ac- cess to those services and in exposure to environmental risks compound the vulnerability of the poor.
Accelerated, unplanned growth of the industrial sector is a direct cause of biological, chemical, and physical contamination; it increases transportation and energy consumption, produces more wastes, and ren- ders their disposal inadequate. Industrialization, coupled with the untoward effects attributed in recent years to climate change, is resulting in the deterioration of the environment and of people’s quality of life and health. Production processes-the extraction of raw materials, their transformation into products, the con- sumption of those products, the elimination of industrial wastes, and the use of pesticides in agriculture and forestry-pose direct and indirect physical and chemical risks to populations. Mining, petroleum exploration, agrochemical farming, hospitals, health centers and laboratories, energy plants, and industrial manufactur- ers are among the biggest producers of dangerous chemical and solid wastes. The consumption of goods and services poses a major challenge to environmental management in terms of controlling risks and promoting health.
Since the home and the workplace are people’s primary environments, adequate housing and working conditions are as important to ensure their good health as is the larger environment. A major problem is that of rural communities where the poor are particularly exposed to health risks, especially those living in endemic areas plagued by vector-borne diseases-Chagas’, malaria, dengue, and yellow fever. Another set of problems relates to changes in the work profile and in the working population wrought by globalization, regional inte- gration, trade liberalization, structural adjustments and privatization, and social policies-all of which greatly impact the living conditions and health of the working population and lead to increased inequities. Most wor- risome in this respect are the increasing proportions of children and elderly in the workforce.
Along with greater poverty, social inequity, and urbanization, the breaking up of family and commu- nity structures fosters unhealthy environments that can lead to likewise unhealthy lifestyles and risky be- haviors at every stage of life. Aggravating those conditions are the persistence of mortality among mothers and children due to poor nutrition, infections, and lack of access to goods and services. A direct link has been drawn between poor diet and chronic diseases: together, nutritional deficiencies and excesses contribute to a double burden of diseases that affect the population at every age. The increase in risky lifestyles and be- haviors-smoking, the consumption of alcohol and drugs, and various forms of violence and accidents-un- derscore the critical need for health promotion strategies.
Why we need a hygienic environment
anitation is an integral part of health, development, and poverty-reduction strategies. Basic sanitation is the series of ac- tions taken within the human ecosystem to improve water supply services and sanitary wastewater and excreta disposal, solid waste management, household hygiene, and industrial water use in an institutional, legal, and political context in which diverse players from the national, regional, and local levels participate. This series of actions keeps public health and basic sanitation management in permanent interaction. Several countries from the Region incorporate management of these areas into such sec- tors as the environment and housing, whose subsequent coordi- nation with the health sector is essential for achieving sustain- able development.
The population’s access to drinking water supply, sanitation services, and sanitary disposal of solid waste are analyzed here within the context of the MDGs, public health, and the economic benefits accruing from good health through the achievement of sustainable services of acceptable quality. Critical and emergency situations that have arisen in Latin America and the Caribbean are also addressed.
The relationship between health and agriculture is of great im- portance for the well-being and quality of life of the peoples of
Food safety The relationship between health and agriculture is of great im- portance for the well-being and quality of life of the peoples of
The sustainable production of food and achieving food and nutritional safety in the Region’s countries are essential elements for eliminating hunger and reducing poverty. By en- hancing food production, it is possible to increase the availability of animal protein, fruits, and vegetables, as well as increase family incomes and rural job opportunities, thereby improving overall living conditions and the population’s health. The eradi- cation of extreme poverty and hunger
How to achieve hygienic and healthy environment
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