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Health and Informal Settlements in Brazil: the case of Rio de Janeiro - Research Paper Example

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1. Introduction
The rapid urbanization of modern cities is often considered as a severe threat for their residents. Indeed, the research developed in this field has revealed that the development of cities worldwide tends to proceed with no plan for securing the health of local people. …
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Health and Informal Settlements in Brazil: the case of Rio de Janeiro
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Download file to see previous pages The phenomenon is more extensive in large cities where the volume of population and the critical inequalities in income leads to the establishment of informal settlements so that the housing needs of poor people are covered. Current paper focuses on the informal settlements of Rio de Janeiro, at the level that the various elements of these settlements are related to the health of their residents. By understanding the health issues that people living in the informal settlements of Rio de Janeiro face it would be easier to realize the relationship between health and geography. Six peer reviewed journals are used as the basis of this paper. It is made clear that health can be severely influenced by geography and, most important, that health trends can be similar to regions with the same or similar socioeconomic characteristics, a phenomenon that it is described using the term health geography. 2. Literature Review In order to understand the role of informal settlements in the deterioration of health of local people it would be necessary to refer primarily to the relationship between health and the socioeconomic environment of a city/ region, as this issue has been explored in the literature. Lahelma et al. (2005) tried to identify the potential effects of socioeconomic inequalities on health. The researchers have used data retrieved through the Helsinki Health Study for the period 2000-2001. The Helsinki Health Study is a research framework established in order to show the relationship between occupational inequalities and health. Statistical analysis has been employed for the analysis of the Helsinki Study’s data. It has been proved that inequalities in occupation had affected the health of the participants; still, the health problems resulted because of occupational inequalities are mostly related to ‘pain, to self-rated health and circulatory problems’ (Lahelma et al. 2005, p.504). Moreover, no relationship was identified between occupational class inequalities and mental health (Lahelma et al. 2005). The study of Lahelma et al. (2005) is of critical importance for understanding that the socioeconomic environment can affect the health of people within a particular region; therefore, the concept of health geography can be developed in regions with similar socioeconomic characteristics. In regard to this paper’s case study the study of Lahelma et al. (2005) could be used for stating the following view: the residents of the informal settlements of Rio de Janeiro are expected to face similar health problems, being differentiated from the residents of the rest of the city who live in a different socioeconomic environment. From a similar point of view, Wagstaff (2002) has explored the effects of people’s economic status on their health. Wagstaff (2002) was based on the findings, both qualitative and quantitative, of the literature in order to check whether the financial status of individuals is able to affect the quality of their health. It was proved that, indeed, there is a close relationship between income and health (Wagstaff 2002). In this way, poor people are exposed to severe health risks while for people of average/ high financial status these risks are significantly lower (Wagstaff 2002). For the population of informal settlements in Rio de Janeiro the above finding could be interpreted as follows: people who live in this region and who are of low financial status, are more likely to face severe health implications, in case of illness, than from those living in the formal settlements of the city. The relationship between the socioeconomic environment and the health of people in a particular re ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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