Individual Responsibility for Ill Health

Factors such as lack of education, insufficient access to medical facilities, social background, income level, and employment condition tend to have a significant impact on the promotion of unhealthy activities on the part of people. Understandably, these factors driving human behaviour are beyond the control of people and hence, individuals cannot be held responsible for ill health.
This paper provides an insightful study on the causes of ill health in the society as pertinent to environmental and structural factors along with the elaboration the notion of individual responsibility as emphasised as the sole cause of growing ill health in the society. The discussion focuses on the extent to which the overemphasis on individual responsibility leads to diverting the attention from major structural and environmental causes for unhealthy practices that should otherwise be dealt with immediately.
The deterioration of health conditions among individuals tend to be a consequence of several factors, or in other words, it can be stated there happen to be several causes of ill-health encountered in a society. …
The more the variation in the health status of individuals in a nation, the more likely is the prevalence of inequality in it.

Historically, people had been assigning the major causes of ill health to the lifestyles of individuals. For instance, people were regarded to stay cautious in opting for a lifestyle posing risk to their health, as it was their responsibility and within their spectrum of control to stop themselves from unhealthy practices. This trend however changed as people started to develop an understanding of the factors beyond their control and distinctive health conditions prevailing in various sections of the society shed light on the environmental and structural factors as eminent causes of ill health in individuals. Hodgetts and Chamberlain (2000, p328) put forward that, "people today do not just assign responsibility to the ‘immoral individual’, but renegotiate this explanation and extend it by assigning cause to an ‘immoral’ and inequitable social system".
Social inequality and discrimination among the members of society on the basis of income, class and living conditions play a very important role in the determination of health status of individuals. Allison (1991) emphasises that structural factors relating to social inequality and class distinctions tend to have severe impact upon the health status of individuals. People having access to healthcare facilities on the basis of their income and social condition, lead to the concept of inequitable or unjust society where poor people become easy prey to even minor and avoidable diseases.
The unavailability of proper health and safety conditions, poor information regarding the spread of diseases, lack of