An Investigation of Influences of Socio-economic and Environmental Factors on Health: A Case Study of Makongeni Location, Nakuru District.

Health development is a social issue of pressing importance especially in the African setting. In recognition of the fact that health and development cannot be separated, the heads of state of the organization of Africa have declared that ‘health is the basis of development’ and also that ‘health is a pre-requisite for development’. Due to its role in development the health sector has continued to be a focus for international, national and community based collaboration and support.

No nation can be said to have adequately met the health needs of its people wholly, although some to a larger extent are at a better position others. It is in the light of this that the study endeavoured to investigate the problem of health service provision in Makongeni location which is a predominantly a low income settlement.

Studies done elsewhere show that among the low income people, the major health problems and causes of death are largely due to environmental and social economic deficiencies. The diseases suffered by many are rooted in the ecology of poverty which hence can only be conquered by eradicating their social-economic and physical origins. The area of the study has a high mortality rate of children below age five, malnourished children are a common sight in the villages. It has also had an outbreak of cholera and typhoid. Cholera is seen as a disease of underdevelopment, a flag of poverty and the disadvantaged, and a living testimony of deficiencies in water supplies, sanitation, food safety and public hygiene (45th World Assembly Vol 12 No 2 1992) . Looking at the disease pattern in Makongeni location, the health problems seem to have socio-economic and environmental origins. It is in the light of this that the study endeavoured to investigate the social-economic and environmental factors as they affect the health of the people.

The study examined how various socio-economic and physical factors have influenced the health of the population in Makongeni location. From the analysis of the data collected, education was a very important variable in influencing health behaviour of an individual. Mortality and sanitation practices were found to be related to education level of the household head. Protected water sources were found to be a good control measure against water transmitted diseases. Housing was found to be in poor condition for a healthy living.

The major findings of the study show that solution to rural health problems must take into account the most effective, cheap and available approach in provision of health care. The concern should move from conventional health care to a more comprehensive approach which should encompass sectors of agriculture, water supply housing, environment, education and other heath- related sectors. This calls for Community-Based Health Care. It is important to develop skills to encourage and teach people to share the responsibility for preventing disease, promoting good health practices, and even some aspects of caring for the poor.

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