The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a, “state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This definition allows for the recognition that health is a dynamic condition and that human beings have to constantly adjust and adapt in response to stresses and changes in their environment. The wellbeing of the mind, body, and soul is important for every person to be productive, contributing citizens of their societies. This necessity of wellbeing is cuts across social class, wealth, and global location.
At GSDI we work with vulnerable populations towards physical, mental, and social wellbeing by tackling the impacts of social and structural determinants of health on these populations around the globe. Vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected by health problems oftentimes due to their poverty status. For example, people living with HIV/AIDS who are poor experience numerous barriers to adherence such as, lack of access to health services, adequate food, and financial resources to pay for costs related to treatment. . In turn, treatment adherence becomes more difficult and the risk of mortality and morbidity increases, contributing to other negative social, psychological and health outcomes.
Another example is gender violence and gender inequality, which often times stems from the economic disadvantage of women; economic security presents them with more bargaining power, greater independence, and improved overall wellbeing. Lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation, particularly in urban slums, demonstrates the intersection of poverty and health. Slum dwellers face these harmful living conditions because of limited resources, forcing them to remain in insufficient dwellings.
At GSDI, we recognize that tangible and intangible assets are important strategies that allow individuals and households to make better health decisions. Our work focuses on interrelated and holistic interventions that provide opportunities to build and enhance these assets. We believe that, in addition to individual and interpersonal factors, assets are necessary tools and pathways to improved physical and mental health, timely access to health services, adequate food and nutrition, and clean water and proper sanitation. Central to GSDI’s health core is the recognition that broader economic, social, and structural issues are often more constraining on individual decisions and behaviors in many resource-poor communities than in resource-rich settings.