7. Health Geography in British Columbia
In this chapter we learned to develop an understanding of the diversity of perspectives within the sub-discipline of health geography. Health geography is the study of health and ill health in relationship to place. It is concerned with the study of disease ecology and mapping, health service provisions, therapeutic landscapes, public health policy, health in the workplace, patient experience, experience of disease, experience of disability, geographies of care and responsibility and embodiments of mental (ill) health.
To better understand the diversity of health geographies, it is important to think about how health is related to the spatial distribution of people and resources. This is done by bringing attention to the social determinants of health, epidemiology including mapping incidence of disease and a focus on access to health services. There are great opportunities to improve health surveillance intuitiveness through the use of GIS technologies.
BC’s health system is based on ethical obligations of providing all people access to health services and ensuring that all BC citizens can realize their right to health. New approaches to providing this kind of access include mobile and telehealth options for people in rural communities. As we can see from the case study on the “golden hour,” the significant rural settlements in BC provide diverse challenges to accessing healthcare, especially in the case of acute trauma. Recently health geographers have been drawing on an intersectionality approach to understanding the complex interrelationships of health and place.