Since the nineteenth century, social inequality has emerged as one of the main factors responsible for health disparities in the country. It has now been established beyond doubt that health of an individual depends on a number of social and environmental factors, such as standard of living, housing condition, sanitation facilities, quality of nutrition, access to education, and exposure to illnesses.
For example, as per the figures released by The Scientific Reference Group of Health Inequalities, (2007) those belonging to lower classes in Britain are more likely to suffer from cardiac and respiratory diseases as compared to their counterparts belonging to the upper stratum of the society. Furthermore, socioeconomic status has been noted to be one of the main factors that determine an individual’s level of access to healthcare facilities, and the quality thereof.
Because of its public welfare aspect, the issue of an equitable and effective access to healthcare has been receiving an increasing amount of attention. This has meant that from being a voluntary or a private service at the time of the industrial revolution, healthcare has gradually transitioned towards becoming one of the main functions, and hence the responsibility, of the modern welfare state. As per McKinlay, (1981) it was mainly during the nineteenth century when the relationship between economics and health was established when poor health, or sickness to be more precise, was identified as the main causes of pauperism by Chadwick. This in turn established the relationship between the health of the British population and the British politics.
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