Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

The Association between Peace and Life Expectancy: An Empirical Study of the World Countries

Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

The Association between Peace and Life Expectancy: An Empirical Study of the World Countries

Article excerpt


Peace and determinants of health

World Health Organization (WHO) defines Health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". Based on this definition, health is a broad concept in which different aspects of a community including cultural, societal, economical, and political status affect it (1-3). In recent decades, studies have addressed and examinedmany known factors about the socioeconomic determinants of health (4).Peace is one of these factors, which in line with other factors such as social justice, education, income, food, housing, etc are the backbones and the prerequisites for health in each community (5).

Effectsof no peace on public health

Political, social and economicinsecurity and unrests (conflicts, civil wars, riots,...) have an impact on human health bythe destructive effects of different weapons, the sanctions and pressures of economic,social and political systems. In this term, people address their health needs, the subsequent refuge, starvation, drought, and epidemics of such disruptions, and the diversion of economic resources to military ends (6-10). Economic insecurity and hardship might make changes in mortality patterns and have an increase in suicides (11-12). The financial and technical supports of donors and intervention of peace makingin times of different unrests and insecurities can make operational consequences in the health sector (13).

Overall, peace and environmental stability within and between countries can provide a more conducive climate to health improvement. Countries with a peaceful spacearemost likely to provide fundamentals such as finance and health professionals for health development. Moreover, lack of peace can affect the implementation of health programs and initiatives. For instance, violent conflict leads to poverty, disease, and vulnerability for a communityparticularlyamong high-risk groups including women and children who are the primary target population of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (14). It drains resources for basic services, then it can impedeimplementing MDGs, as well as discouraging international partners from providing adequate assistance.In addition, insecurity, political unrest,the threat of violence, war and conflict are considered as some importantpush factors for immigration and the brain drain of health workers especially in developing countries (15). As a result, the continuity of this phenomenon contributes to waste of investments included in human resources and further underdevelopment.

Concepts of Peace

Peace is a multifaced concept and somewhat difficult to measure and define (16-17). Different definitions of peace appear in the literature. The most common definition of peace as the literature review shows is the lack of violence or any types of conflicts. This aspect of peace is referred to "negative peace" as defined by Johan Galtung (18). Sub-Saharan African countries, which have high levels of conflict, have poor health indicators independent of poverty and HIV (19). Some forms of insecurity such as civil wars cause substantial long-term effects on the burden of death and disability particularly affecting women and children (6).

What makes this concept more complicated is what constitutes a lack of violence? The answer to this question refers to "positive peace" which takes account for a culture of efforts promoting education for peace and sustainable development based on respect for human rights, gender equality, democratic participation, forbearing solidarity, open communication, and international security (20). So, peace contains internal and external factors ranging from a nation's level of military expenditure to its relations with neighboring countries and the level of respect for human rights.

In our study, we supposed the positive aspect of peace as a notion which goes beyond the lack of violence and conflict. …

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