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Essay: How human health & diseases are related to ecology, technological & social development

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  • Subject area(s): Health essays
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  • Published: September 14, 2021*
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  • How human health & diseases are related to ecology, technological & social development
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A disease refers to any alteration within the body compared to the normal functioning of the body parts. On the other hand, adaptation refers to how the body on an organism changes to respond to a particular condition. Disease is one of the critical issues that completely change the normal functioning and behavior of the body. In most cases, infections are considered to have adverse effects while in a few cases, it is associated with positive impacts. For example, if an individual suffers from a particular disease, his or her health condition may deteriorate and it the state is very extreme, the person may die (Johnson et al., 2015).

Deterioration of the body and death are some of the negative impacts caused by a disease. On the other hand, an individual may suffer from certain diseases such as Malaria but manages to handle the condition. If the person survives, his or her antibodies become stronger to fight such an epidemic in cases where the outbreak of the disease may arise. If the outbreak of the Malaria appears again, the person may survive without even taking medication because the antibodies have adapted the condition of the body and can fight the disease effectively. In such a case, the behavior of the antibodies towards Malaria can be considered as the adaptation of the antibodies towards Malaria (Rajagopalan, 2015). Adaptation may take place in varying circumstances. Based on the understanding of diseases and adaptation, the essay focuses on how human health and diseases are related to ecology, technological and social development, from hunting and gathering to agriculture and domestication, to complex civilization such as Rome and Greece as well as the epidemiological transitions evidenced in the stages of social and cultural development.

Various changes regarding human health and diseases have taken place since the period of hunting and gathering that are related to ecological, technological and social development. Firstly, during the hunting and gathering era, the relationship between human health and diseases on ecology was distinct. In this case, ecology refers to the relationship between organisms and their surroundings. Human beings had a mutual relationship with ecological organisms such as plants and animals. Humans used to consume raw meat, vegetables, and seeds with no effect on the health condition of their body. During hunting, human beings could catch antelopes and rabbits among other wild animals which they consumed for food (Frumkin, 2016). They also gathered seeds such as groundnuts and vegetables such as green leaves and roots of various plants. After the consumption of the hunted and gathered foods, human beings defecated anywhere in the bushy areas from where plants grew and thrived well. Defecation from humans and animals on the bushed enabled plants to grow much to sustain humans with enough food for their survival. In cases where humans developed diseases, they consumed ground roots, leaves or stems which acted as their medicine. These substances enabled people to manage their health conditions in which the mortality rate was low due to their effectiveness.

Secondly, the level of technology was very low; indeed, human beings during the hunting and gathering period had no technology to enable them to cope with living conditions. Regarding social development, human beings lived in groups as a community (Jennings et al., 2016). They interacted towards in all aspects including hunting and gathering. In cases where an outbreak of disease emerged, it affected several people within the community, though their immunity was powerful. In such a case, they could consume plant parts such as roots and leaves to heal their condition.

The practices that humans were carried out during the era of hunting and gathering enabled them to shift to agriculture and domestication. Due to the increasing population, humans were no longer able to hunt and gather enough food to sustain the whole community (Moysés & Soares, 2018). Due to that challenge, they started storing gathered seeds and vegetables such as plant stems as well as keeping hunted animals such as rabbits. In the process of saving and keeping hunted and gathers substances, seeds grew into crops as animals reproduced and increased in number. The relationship between humans and the ecological conditions increased where they started living with domesticated animals. The adaptation of wild crops and animals changed to domesticated organisms. Due to the close ecological relationship between humans and animals, both started to share some diseases such as anthrax. If humans got into contact or consume the products from an animal suffering from anthrax, the disease transferred from animals to humans (Folke et al., 2016). However, due to the diversity of crops and animals, humans could use medicine from plants part to heal themselves and the animals. This aspect indicated that there was a strong relationship between humans’ health, diseases, and the ecological conditions during the agriculture and domestication era.

The level of technology during the period or agriculture and domestication was still very low since humans had not yet started to apply technology in their daily activities. Therefore, there was no connection between human health and disease in terms of technology. However, the aspect of social development had a strong connection with human health and diseases. People practiced agriculture together as a community as well as practiced domestication as a group. The people of the community regardless of their relationship as family members could irrigate their crops through open ditches and furrow methods to obtain enough food to cater to the community. During the period, some waterborne diseases such as Bilharzia, among other diseases that emerge due to flooding such as malaria were more prevalent. In cases where one person was affected by the condition, it spread to other people within the community, hence affecting their health condition. Regarding domestication, people of the same population used to keep their animals together while others move from place to place looking for greener pastures for their animals. In cases where an outbreak of disease emerged among animals, it also infected humans due to their close relationship with them. People could also sleep together with animals since they used to share the same shelter with them. In such cases, the health condition of people deteriorated depending on the number of animals living within the same housing. Humans could contract some diseases such as cholera and typhoid though they used tradition medicines such as herbs to heal themselves (Steg, 2018). Humans could adopt the changes in their ecological and social development easily, thus managing to handle emerging diseases.
The adaptation of humans to ecological, technological, as social development changed significantly during the civilization period thus lowering the connection between such aspects and the human health and diseases. The civilization period can be described based on the interaction of various societies such as ancient Greece and Rome, beginning of the technology and development of relatively modern structures. During the period, the linkage between human health and disease to ecology, technological and social development aspects grow stronger. During the civilization period, people interacted more with their domesticated animals since they could plough their lands using the animals as well as grow a variety of crops. Crops and domestic animals increased among the communities and diseases reduced due to consumption of healthy foods. Animals could eat healthy grown crops that improved their immunity thus reducing the prevalence of disorders among them (Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences, 2017). This aspect decreased the issues of diseases among humans since they could only contract a few diseases in rare conditions. People could now prepare their food well, and only a few crops and animal products could be consumed while raw.

The aspect of technology developed slightly compared to the early periods. Humans could now wear shoes and cloth themselves. The aspect of clothing among people reduced diseases such as flue that was considered to develop among people due to cold conditions. However, the clothes worn warmed the body of humans thus avoiding some illnesses associated with cold conditions. Moreover, people could build relatively modern shelters where they could live as human beings far from animals especially among the ancient Greek people and the ancient Romans (Moran, 2018). The distance they kept from animals such as sharing separate shelter enabled them to stay away from animal diseases.

The aspect of social development increased among the civilized people since they could understand how to live as separate families thus keeping close contact between family members. In most cases, members of the same family or relatives used to stay together. In such conditions, the rate of disease spread among people reduces since some illnesses were considered to be linked with the family aspect. In such a case, the increased social development encouraged the reduction in the spread of diseases among people of the same community but enhanced the transmission of diseases among people of the same family background due to the aspect of living together as a family (Rajagopalan, 2015). Since the people who lived during the civilization era appeared to be more advanced than the people in the previous periods, their human health and disease conditions seemed to have more linkage to ecological, technological, and social development aspects.

During the three stages of linkage between human health and diseases to ecological, technological and social development, which includes the hunting and gathering period, the agricultural and domestic period, as well as the civilization period, there are three epidemiological transition stages involved. The first epidemiological transition stage is known as the Pestilence and Famine age in which the mortality rate is considered to be high and fluctuates thus indicating sustained population growth. During this age, the average life expectancy varies with an increase in age. At birth, life expectancy is considered to low after which it increases between the age of 20 years and 40 years (Moysés & Soares, 2018). This stage can be compared with the hunting and gathering period since the mortality rate at birth is high due to lack of improved medication and healthcare. The mortality age decreases with increase in age since individuals develop techniques for preparing herbal medicines.

The second epidemiological transition stage involves the Receding Pandemic age where the rate of mortality among the population decreases progressively. The rate of decline increases as the peak of a particular disease disappears or becomes less frequent. The birth average life expectancy increases steadily from around 30 years to almost 50 years (Tesh, 2018). The growth rate of the population is considered to be sustained as it can now be illustrated in an exponential curve. This transition stage can be compared with the agriculture and domestication era where people have identified the use of various herbs for medicinal purposes. From the repetitive practice of trial and error method of determining various herbs that can be used as medicine, the life expectancy at birth increases due to the use of the herbs to the born children. The more the age of the population increases, the more they identify more herbs with medicinal value.

The third epidemiological transition stage experienced due to the human health and disease linkages to ecological, technological, and social development is the Degenerative and Manmade Diseases age. At this age, the rate of mortality tends to decrease after which it becomes almost stable at a comparatively low level. At this stage, the birth life expectancy is said to increase gradually until it reaches to 50 years (Tesh, 2018). In this epidemiological transition phase, fertility is the most determinant on the growth rate of the population. This transition phase can be compared with the civilization period which is evidenced by the people of ancient Greece and Rome. At this era, people have developed relatively modern techniques of controlling the rate of children birth, and therefore the people have relatively few children. Due to a reduced number of children per family, as well as the advanced medication for human health, the birth rate increases gradually. The people are considered to have some skills is the development of relatively modern structures and tools.

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