Project 1: About Me

Introduction

I am a current student at the University of Texas at Austin, studying public health and sociology. I am interested in a career in public health and global health; I hope to go on to earn an advanced degree in public health. Public health infrastructure is crucial to the well-being of everyone around the world, and I can work on a larger scale by leveraging my understanding of sociology within the public health framework.

My hobbies include reading and traveling. I have traveled to 12 countries thus far and hope to continue traveling because there are so many unique cultures to learn about and sights to see around the world. When I travel, I also like to bring a lot of books with me; when I get tired, I often just find a bench to rest on and pull out a book to start reading.

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Me in front of the Angkor Wat temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Sources

  1. Marmot, Michael. 2006. “Health in an Unequal World.” Lancet, 368, 2081-2094.

Marmot, in this book, focuses on the link between inequity and economic principles, and calls physicians to a “moral obligation” to recognize the role of society in causing health problems. He relays this information from a physician’s background, linking public health issues to individual patients. He discusses in detail the “social gradient” of health, citing data to support the idea that people at the highest level of a society have better health outcomes not only compared to people at the lowest level of the same society, but also each level in between. Men who have doctorate degrees, for example, have better health outcomes than men with master’s degrees, who have better health outcomes than men with bachelor’s degrees, and so on. This is true in the US but also Britain, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand; developing countries have less data records, but those that do exist seem to show a similar effect. Among countries, we see a similar divide according to GDP. By examining data from different countries, Marmot also argues that health inequity is not inevitable, citing Sweden and other social democratic nations as examples.

Poverty is more than a lack of money – it also includes a lack of opportunity, empowerment, and security.

  1. Mullings, Leith, et al. 2001. “Qualitative Methodologies and Community Participation in Examining Reproductive Experiences: The Harlem Birth Rights Project.” Maternal and Child Health Journal 5(2): 85-93.

In this study, Mullings gathered African American women to identify social, economic, and political variables that lead to greater vulnerability in birth outcomes. She found that some conditions experienced by these women provide constant stress to potential mothers, and provide a multiplicative, rather than additive, effect. These mothers are increasingly unmarried, creating large networks of support that differ in characteristics across social strata; middle-class women rely more on friends while lower-income women rely more on families. Because of the important role of men in the women’s lives, Mullings also encourages interventions to include men’s issues and conditions.

She also found that some women delay prenatal care if they are uninsured or expect “quality” care that they must search for. The quality of care they received depended on the provider’s perceptions and assumptions of the women as well as the women’s understanding of noncompliance. Distrust in medical professionals and facilities was also a factor, and seemed to manifest in different ways according to the education level of the women.

Mullings argues that community participation is crucial in the creation of interventions to ensure targeting of community-identified needs, and suggests that single behaviors (maternal substance abuse) cannot be isolated from societal factors (availability of transportation for prenatal care, etc.).

 

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