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The complex link between social conditions and health


A child bathes in polluted water in Rier village, South Sudan - numerous factor's cause poor health in the Third World

A child bathes in polluted water in Rier village, South Sudan - numerous factor's cause poor health in the Third World

A child bathes in polluted water in Rier village, South Sudan - numerous factor's cause poor health in the Third World

Sarah Burke (Irish Independent, March 3) makes a cogent argument that inequality in wealth and income distribution leads to bad health for everyone. Nevertheless, inequality is more complex than has been portrayed.

Wealthier people do not necessarily live longer than other people in lower socioeconomic levels.

There are a plethora of diseases that are associated with affluence. Modern lifestyles are often characterised by sedentary habits, abundant food, heavy alcohol consumption and over-reliance on cars for commuting, often leading to obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, vitamin D deficiencies, cancers and other psychological disorders such as depression.

Take Japan and Finland for example: they are considered to be affluent nations, yet depression and suicide rates are high, ranking 9 and 21 worldwide respectively.

Poor people have their own fair share of diseases due to overcrowding, inadequate sanitation, unhealthy working conditions, labour slavery, sexual exploitation, inaccessible and unaffordable healthcare services and malnutrition, to mention a but a few.

This has been the case for centuries. I cannot see any glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel. Maybe we could find solace in Professor Michael Marmot's assertion that "the link between social conditions and health is not a footnote to the 'real' concerns with health - health care and unhealthy behaviours - it should become the main focus".

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob

London, NW2, United Kingdom

Meaning of 'marriage equality'

Before we vote on "marriage equality" we need to understand the meaning of the words. Do people still see marriage as a permanent loving relationship between a man and a woman who freely choose to form a new family with each other?

Families come in all shapes and sizes, from two members to extended families that include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, step brothers or sisters, step parents, foster parents etc. Justice and respect is due to each and every family, whether parents are formally married or not.

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Usually life is easier when the father and mother share the responsibilities and each family member enjoys care and security. Marriage is not for the fainthearted, it involves great effort and self denial; something more than ordinary human love, patience and forgiveness.

What about "marriage equality"? To me, equality means giving respect to every person without exception, regardless of race, religion, social background, marital status, etc. People are not all the same, but if we are respectful, we can see each other as equally human and if we are believers we can see each other as different but equally loved by God.

M Clenaghan

Letterkenny, Co Donegal

Don't vote 'No' to spite Coalition

I am writing this to express my concern at what seems to be a growing attitude towards the upcoming referendum on same-sex marriage. Recently, I have both heard and read online that some people are planning to vote "No" on this referendum simply to spite Fine Gael and Labour.

I find this sort of attitude quite alarming. This referendum is not about attempting to "get back" at any politicians or political parties - it is about granting same-sex couples the right to get married in this country should they so desire. No more, no less.

I wish to urge my fellow Irish citizens to leave their politics at the door when voting in this referendum in May. If you have any grievances against our Government, then express them in the next election. But please don't potentially jeopardise the granting of basic civil rights to same-sex couples simply to prove a political point.

Sean Slattery

Newport, Co Tipperary

Davitt is turning in his grave

I just heard on the radio that the road from Foxford to Straide was closed due to heavy snow.

I called a friend there to ask him how much snow had fallen - he said not much. So why is the road closed?

It appears that Michael Davitt turned over in his grave, causing great damage to the road, after hearing about solicitor Brian O'Donnell being assisted by members of the so-called New Land League.

Kevin Devitte

Westport, Co Mayo

Emmet still relevant today

Today marks the birthday of Robert Emmet.

Emmet came from a wealthy Protestant family, which sympathised with Irish Catholics and their lack of fair representation.

After the 1798 rising, Emmet was involved in reorganising the defeated United Irish Society and preparing a rebellion in 1803.

The current debate about Irish unity focuses on whether nationalists are in favour of it.

Emmet shows that this discussion shouldn't focus on nationalists, but should also include unionists. They will also benefit from Irish unity, through larger representation and economic gains.

Wolfe Tone's vision to unite Catholic, Protestant and dissenter, under the common name of Irishmen, is as valid today as it was in 1798.

Patrick Bamming

Dublin 1

Cahill is putting children first

Congratulations to abuse victim Mairia Cahill on receiving the Thirst for Justice Award, which was so well deserved.

She has pledged to continue to campaign for justice -particularly regarding any kind of abuse involving children.

I wish this wonderfully brave lady every success.

Children need people like Mairia. Children first. It's a simple concept. Children before country. Children before tradition. There is no argument. Children first.

Brian Mc Devitt

Glenties, Co Donegal

Rugby team has pride in spades

I noted with amusement that last weekend marked the 30th anniversary of Ciaran Fitzgerald's "where's your f***ing pride" motivational speech to the Irish rugby team.

The immortal words were not required to ignite the passions of this current crop of gladiators, who sent the Sweet Chariot careering into the wilderness. A more fitting way to commemorate Captain Fitzgerald's eloquence would be hard to imagine.

Ten back-to-back wins, where scalps included South Africa and Australia, is quite a milestone.

The job is not quite finished yet and we may find ourselves reverting to Fitzie's lexicon of blue, but it's been one hell of a run.

Ed Toal

Galway city

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