Sociology of Health and Illness - International Perspective - Australia


The health patterns found on the continent of Australia, which includes the Pacific Islands, have been very much influenced by European colonization. While indigenous medicinal beliefs are not significantly prevalent in Australia, traditional ideas are still influential in the health care problems in many of the islands of the Pacific. The rapid urbanization of Australia led to epidemics of typhoid fever and the Bubonic plague. Because of this, public health was professionalized beginning in the late 1870s in an effort to control these and other diseases. Since then Australia’s health system has evolved similarly to Western countries and the main cultural influence affecting health care are the political ideologies of the parties in control of the government.

Australia has had treatment facilities for ‘problem drinkers’ since the 1870s. In the 1960s and 1970s it was recognized that Australia had several hundred thousand alcoholics and prevention became a priority over cures, as there was a societal consensus that treatments are generally ineffective. The government began passing laws attempting to curb alcohol consumption but consistently met opposition from the wine-making regions of southern Australia. The government has also waged a war on illegal drugs, particularly heroin, which in the 1950s became widely used as a pain reliever.

Experts believe that many of the History of the Pacific Islands health problems in the Pacific Islands can be traced to European colonization and the subsequent globalization and modernization of island communities. European colonization and late independence meant modernization but also slow economic growth, which had an enormous impact on health care, particularly on nutrition in the Pacific Islands. The end of colonization meant a loss of medical resources, and the fledgling independent governments could not afford to continue the health policies put in place by the colonial governments. Nutrition was changed radically, contributing to various other health problems. While more prosperous, urban areas could afford food, they chose poor diets, causing ‘overnourishment’, and leading to extremely high levels of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Poorer rural communities, on the other hand, continue to suffer from malnutrition and malaria.

Traditional diets in the Pacific are very low in fat, but since World War II there has been a significant increase in fat and protein in Pacific diets. Native attitudes towards weight contribute to the obesity problem. Tongan natives see obesity as a positive thing, especially in men. They also believe that women should do as little physical work as possible while the men provide for them, meaning they get very little exercise.

Read more about this topic:  Sociology Of Health And Illness, International Perspective

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Famous quotes containing the word australia:

    I like Australia less and less. The hateful newness, the democratic conceit, every man a little pope of perfection.
    —D.H. (David Herbert)

    It is very considerably smaller than Australia and British Somaliland put together. As things stand at present there is nothing much the Texans can do about this, and ... they are inclined to shy away from the subject in ordinary conversation, muttering defensively about the size of oranges.
    Alex Atkinson, British humor writer. repr. In Present Laughter, ed. Alan Coren (1982)