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FEATURE ARTICLE

Health and Human Society

Wealthier nations are not always healthier, and efforts to improve health can be swamped by the effects of inequality and conflict

Clyde Hertzman

Why is the health of people in some societies so much better or worse than it is elsewhere? The answer lies not only in prosperity and its rewards of good nutrition and advanced medical care. The prospects for health and well-being in human societies, Hertzman says, are embedded in the environments where people grow up, live and learn. Underlying socioeconomic conditions are complemented but not preempted by access to medical services. In fact, advances in medicine and programs to improve access to care often fail to improve the overall health of a population. In such cases—in prosperous as well as poor societies—the effects of social and economic disparities can swamp the best efforts to improve overall health.


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