This panel explores how health is not perceived the same way by all members of a community giving rise to confusion about the concept of health. Socio-cultural factors, gender relations and emerging regional demographic trends affects the health status.
There is a recognition that our health is affected by many factors including where we live, what we eat, genetics, our income, our educational status and our social relationships - these are known as "social determinants of health." A social gradient in health runs through society, with those that are poorest generally suffering the worst health. The relationship between social conditions and factors influencing health has been a major interest of mankind- people have generally tended to view health problems from the perspective of their own societies and cultures. Knowledge about norms, values, beliefs, social structures and life styles has provided insight not only about the social organization of human resources, but also about nature and causes of illness. The recognition of the significance of the complex relationship between social, cultural factors and the level of the health characteristics of the people- the specific social groups has lead to the development of Medical anthropology as an important area within Anthropology, concerned with social and cultural facets of health. Anthropologists, thus utilize health as an efficient parameter and indicator for exploring and analyzing the latent mechanism of socio-cultural life of a group.
Gender determines the power relation and resource allocation between the two sexes. It connotes that gender creates differences, which are specific to a given culture. These differences often work to the disadvantage of women. These inequalities get ramified into various forms of vulnerabilities to illness, health status, accessibility and quality of health care.