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PUBH630 - Determinants of Health Assignment - Australian Catholic University, Australia

Assessment Task - Environmental Health Risk Assessment and Intervention Simulation

Learning Outcomes -

  • Evaluate the impacts, interactivity and distribution of health determinants at a community or population level, and how these relate to complex public health/societal issues.
  • Evaluate social, political, ethical, economic and ecological considerations and their impact on public health interventions and practice.
  • Assess risks to health present within the environment using practice-based frameworks and recommend appropriate evidence-based interventions.

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Purpose: Apply knowledge through conducting an environmental health assessment and developing an intervention plan.

Answer - ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH RISK

Executive Summary

The following report sheds light on environmental health risk factors in the context of overcrowdedness and poor living standard of inner city apartment of the Melbourne area. The main focus of the report is air pollution and infection risk factor. Therefore, in order to mitigate the risk factors, the assessment report highlights specific risk management plan based on the characterisation of each of the risk factors. Moreover, it also highlights the communication strategies that need to be taken into consideration at the time of delivering mitigation strategies to the public and stakeholders.

Introduction

Environmental health risk includes a certain factor that increases the issues and breaks the sustainability of the environment. Environmental risk factors mainly affect the community and people's surroundings. Risk cannot be demolished completely. However, it can be mitigated through a certain measurement. Thus, with this reference, it can be seen that the main focus of the following report is on studying certain risk issues in the context of Australia.

Along with that, the study also reports the characterisation of the potential risk factors regarding environmental health. Based on the views of numerous scholar and statutory organisation, the report also highlights the hazardous and make risk assessment plan in order to develop sustainable guidance to maintain an equilibrium position in the environment.

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Q1. Issue identification: Identify at least 2 likely health hazards associated with overcrowding and poor living conditions in Melbourne's inner-city apartments (e.g. infection risk, exposure to noise, air pollution, extreme temperatures, fire risk etc.). Describe how the hazards arise, by citing academic literature and/or reputable newspaper/media articles.

Answer - Issue Identification

A wide number of health hazardous could be connected along with the poor living as well as overcrowding in inner-city apartments of Melbourne. All of these issues can be interlinked with each other. Thus, if any of these issues arise then automatically, the relevant issues will increase (Dunwoody & Peters, 2016). Moreover, it can be seen that environmental factors take these factors into consideration in terms of water quality, air quality, as well as physical environmental factors and available resources for food. Furthermore, Gordon et al. (2015), stated that social factors are consists of work structure as well as income structure and inequality that affects environmental health.

In order to identify the potential issue regarding health hazardous in case of Melbourne inner city apartments research has been done based on the interrelation of mental health, the standard of housing and physical health. Maanan et al. (2015), opined that the connection between the low standard of housing and poor health conditions becomes manifested along with the time period. On the other hand, Lewis et al. (2016), stated that low standard of housing is connected with various difficulties of human being such as; poor nutrition as well as poor living standards and unavailability of personal freedom.

Furthermore, from the statement of Batterham et al. (2016), it can be reviewed that in most of the general cases any human being spends most of his time in his home, and any hazardous regarding the quality of living and housing might lead him to severe health issues. In most of the cases, it becomes visible in children and women, which caused the extreme situation of disability. Thus, it can be said that the standard of living apparently depends and interrelated with environmental risk factors.

On the similar not through scholarly note Cunningham & Fox Koob (2019), it can be known that overcrowding is identified as the main cause of most of the health hazardous. Moreover, the addition of poor living condition increases the scope of overcrowding to spread more health issues. More specifically, it can be said that any diseases and natural disaster and calamities that outbreaks in the society, as well as the environment, is difficult to control in the presence of overcrowding and health hazardous (Dow, 2015).

Therefore, based on this literary review, two hazards have been chosen, such as; Air Pollution and Infection Risk in order to assess the risk along with characterised the risk factors related to these two issues.

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Q2. Hazard and exposure assessment: Assess the likely health impacts of the identified hazards, citing academic literature and/or official statistical resources (ABS, WHO etc) as appropriate. Discuss the mechanisms through which those hazards impact health, and whether particular sub-populations are particularly exposed to the hazards.

Answer - Hazard and Exposure Assessment

In the following report study, main exposure has been given to two identified hazards such as; Air Pollution and Infection Risk as these two are the most relevant and common environmental health issues of the inner city of Melbourne in current time periods. The relevance of these two identified issues can be explained in terms of living standard of people. More specifically, air pollution increases with the increase of quality of living like people, whereas infection risk arises with an increasing factor of poor living and health standard of a human being (Dunwoody & Peters, 2016). Therefore, both of the hazards are assessed more specifically in the following.

Air Pollution

Air pollution is one of the greatest concerns in present times. Most of the developed countries from all over the world are facing major issue regarding air pollution as it threatens environmental sustainability by turning it into risk factor. There are several factors that affect air pollution. According to Krieger & Higgins (2002), air pollution becomes more intense with the overcrowded area as well as the living standard of people. The impact of air pollution is so intense that it also affects the healthy people who live a quality standard of life. Based on the annual air quality database report published by World Health Organisation it can be seen that 91% of the population of earth lives in cities where air quality does not meet the guidelines provided by WHO (who.int, 2019).

Moreover, every year, almost 4.2 million death occurs due to ambient air pollution. Therefore, it can be said that instant health issues resulted from air pollution generates respiratory illness as well as cardiovascular issues. Furthermore, Batterham et al. (2016), stated that air pollution increases the stress level on the lungs as well as heart and make it difficult to supply oxygen to the whole body. Thus, it damages respiratory organs and cells of the human body.

The continuous increase of these issues develops several major health issues such as; bronchitis and asthma. Dow (2015), commented that due to the severe impact of air pollution, ageing of pair of lungs become more accelerated. Along with that, the functioning capacity of the lungs also decreases as oxygen level decreases in the body. More importantly, all these severe impacts of air pollution negatively affect children and pregnant women.

In the case of cities of Melbourne, air pollution can be seen due to numerous sources such as; an increasing number of automobiles, industrial wastage, burning of fuels in houses as well as in manufacturing industries. The living condition of people of these specific cities deteriorates with overcrowded inner city apartments. Furthermore, Maanan et al. (2015), stated that mismanagement of waste is also another major source of the issue. In most of the cases of Melbourne city area, it can be seen that the waste management system becomes over occupied, which leads towards leakage of harmful gases.

Apart from that, reducing air ventilation that creates an obstacle for smoke as it cannot escape by leading towards an increasing level of carbon monoxide and chlorofluorocarbon. These two harmful gases cause severe damages to the lungs by reducing the capacity of the lungs to produce oxygen for the body (Lewis et al. 2016). Another exposure can be given to poor air circulation of the city apartments. Due to this reason, the oxygen level decreases in the air, and moreover, overcrowdedness breaks the equilibrium in the air. Thus, most of the residential people of this area suffer from suffocation and breathing problems. Based on the annual report of WHO regarding environmental risk assessment it can be seen that purity and cleanliness are very low as pollution increases in the air of Melbourne city area by 21% in the year 2018 (who.int, 2019).

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Infection Risk

The second identified issue is an infection risk. That means the risk factor increases with the risk of getting infected by virus or infectious disease because of poor living standards and overcrowdedness. According to Krieger & Higgins (2002), housing situations are utilised as the indicators of a socio-economic group, that means it indicates towards well being and health of overall society. Therefore, it can be said that imbalance in this structure and over crowdedness along with lower living standards of people enhance the growth of susceptible diseases.

The main reason for infection hazardous is lower and inadequate ventilation due to which infectious components such as; smoke and moulds increases in the environment and therefore, it leads towards the decreasing respiratory health condition. Dunwoody & Peters (2016), commented that one of the most common and severe infectious diseases is Tuberculosis. The specification of this disease is that it spreads easily through sneezing and coughing of the patient. Therefore, the rising number of headcount leads towards increasing potentiality of getting infected.

In most of the city apartments of Melbourne, the air ventilation system is very poor. Moreover, the places are overcrowded. Therefore the standard of living in those specific areas is poorer and risky. As a result, fresh air cannot move freely. Furthermore, improper sanitation, contamination of drinking water as well as poverty and lack of nutrition are the major issues of a lower standard of living that increase the scope of numerous infectious risks. As per the health risk assessment report of WHO, 25% of the death in the world happens due to poor living conditions (who.int, 2019).

Moreover, approximate 1.2 million people die annually due to the negative impact of overcrowdedness and health risk. In the year 2011 in Australia, 31% of diseases occurred due to infectious risk factors (planning.vic.gov.au, 2019). Moreover, a statistical report regarding health risk in Australia shows that infectious diseases have been experienced in the lowest socio-economic group by 1.5 times more than a highest socioeconomic group of Australia due to poor living standard (health.wa.gov.au, 2019).

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Q3. Risk characterisation: Make an overall assessment of the level of health risk from environmental hazards, considering the likelihood and severity of health impacts at the population level.

Answer - Risk Characterisation

Characterisation of each of the risk factor can be measured through the information gained from exposure to the risk assessment. Therefore, for this study, characterisation of the two risk factors are as follows:

Identified Risks

High

Medium

Low

Air Pollution

High

-

-

Infection Risk

-

Moderate

-

Table 1: Risk Matrix

Based on the Risk Matrix, it can be seen that the risk factor of air pollution is very high. Therefore, in case of this issue, it has to be taken into consideration that the specific party who would be affected by this and based on the impact severity can be measured. Thus, high severity of air pollution indicates towards the adverse effect of this factor on the overall population. According to Maanan et al. (2015), air pollution specifies the fact that whether people of Melbourne city area has to be admitted to the hospital due to its intense impact.

Another component that characterises the air pollution risk factor is that presence of pollutants. It can be seen that Melbourne's air quality is not pure and clean as pollutant level in the year has increased by 15% during last 5 years which makes the severity of the risk factor more real (health.wa.gov.au, 2019) (Refer to Appendix 1). Therefore, it can be said that the risk severity of air pollution is very much high in Melbourne city area.

On the other side, infection risk has been characterised as a moderate risk factor. According to Dunwoody & Peters (2016), infection risk increases with the increase of health hazardous. The main reason for it is the poor living standard of people which increase the presence of virus and bacteria in the air. Furthermore, the warm, humid weather of Melbourne also increases the infection risk. It can be seen that in Melbourne, due to increasing population and poor standard of living infectious diseases has increased by 7.5% in last 5 years (health.wa.gov.au, 2019) (Refer to Appendix 2). As the severity of infection risk is moderate than the increasing rate of air pollution risk; thus, it can be said that air pollution has a higher severity than an infarction risk factor.

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Q4. Risk management plan: Outline recommendations for intervention by the City of Melbourne and/or other stakeholders (e.g. state government, building inspectors, property developers, apartment residents, landlords etc.), and how your findings and recommendations will be communicated to the public and/or stakeholders.

Answer - Risk Management Plan

Risk management plan emphasise the possible way and strategies through which increasing risk factors can be mitigated. In the case of environmental health risk assessment, it can be seen from the above discussion that risk can be generated from various sources. However, reducing the adverse effect of these factors also can be controlled through numerous mitigation strategies by utilising the environmental resources in a sustainable way (Batterham et al. 2016). Thus, in the following risk management plan has been presented based on two identified risk factors such as; Air pollution and Infection Risk in Melbourne city apartments.

Identified Risk

Impact

Mitigation Strategies

Air Pollution

Lung diseases

Respiratory diseases

Asthma

Emphysema

Pneumonia

Bronchitis

Implementation of Ultra-low sulphur diesel with diesel particle filter in automobiles

Increasing the standards of vehicle emersions

Using low emission stoves in household

Replace small-scale diesel generators

Infection Risk

The increasing rate of morbidity and mortality

Poor living standard

Unhygienic inhabitation

The increasing rate of infectious diseases

Spreading awareness regarding the severe impact of infectious diseases

Government initiative for increasing the standard of living

Governmental as well as nongovernmental initiative in the rural area based on awareness campaign regarding diseases

Free medical facilities to the poor people.

Table 2: Risk Mitigation Strategies

In the above presentation of the risk mitigation strategies, it can be seen that in case of both of the risk factors, important measurements need to implemented for controlling the risk. Thus, government plays a pivotal role in this sector because well being of socio-economic groups as well as overall society is the main responsibility of the government (Gordon et al. 2015). Thus, in case of mitigating the air pollution risk factor from the city area of Melbourne state government along with city regulatory bodies needs to take certain initiatives such as; for reducing the usage of diesel in automobile Ultra-low sulphur diesel with diesel particle filter can be implemented along with replacement of Replace small-scale diesel generators. On the other hand, in order to reduce the air pollution from inner-city apartments of Melbourne every household are recommended to use slow emission stoves in their kitchen appliances.

On the other side, in order to take specific measures to control infectious diseases, Melbourne state government is recommended to take the initiative by launching diseases prevention campaign. Cunningham & Fox Koob (2019), stated that the main focus needs to given on lower and backward socio-economic group by encouraging and motivating them with necessities for the leading quality standard of living. Furthermore, nongovernmental organisations also need to take a remarkable strategy by starting an awareness campaign for poor people.

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Thus, the way above-mentioned mitigation strategies would be communicated to the stakeholders is presented below:

Stakeholder

Communication strategies

Public

By initiating awareness program in school and educational institutes.

I am making the children aware of the early stage regarding the adverse effect of air pollution and infectious disease through environmental studies.

Building inspectors

Implementing environmental Audit at the time of inspection

Measuring the procedure to evaluate if the risk factor has exceeded the sustainable guiding value or not.

Property developers

Informing them about the implementation of the green initiative in every property development project.

It is based on the online platform, informing them for using renewable resources.

Apartment residents

Through general meeting in every apartment awareness campaign for quality, life standard can be initiated

Demonstrating them with a real-life example regarding the adverse impact of pollution.

Landlords

Based on in-person meetings with the landlords of the local apartment mitigation strategies can be delivered.

Table 3: Communication process to stakeholders regarding risk mitigation strategies

Based on the above-presented strategies risk mitigation strategies can be delivered to the stakeholders as it would help to make them aware regarding possibilities of the risk factors and its negative impact on the residents of the inner-city apartment of Melbourne.

Conclusion

Based on the above discussion regarding environmental health risk assessment it can be concluded that in order to identify and analyse potential health risks as well as outcomes that might result from deterioration of environmental factors and resources multidisciplinary approach needs to be taken by the experts who are termed as environmental health risk assessment. The potential risk factors can be social, physical, psychological and environmental. Moreover, the report also includes two risk factors such as; air pollution and infection risk. By analysing the risk factor of both of these issues, it can be found that the intense effect of these factors has broken the equilibrium stage of environmental sustainability, which adversely affect the human living standards. Thus, it is the responsibility of the stakeholders along with the city and state government of Melbourne to focus more on the mitigation strategies through which risk factors can be controlled.

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