Health and Society

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSC08324

Semester and Year Offered: 2nd Semester & Every year

Course Coordinator and Team: Oinam Hemlata Devi and Rinju Rasaily

Email of course coordinator: hemlata[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: NA

Course Description:


The emerging health issues and challenges in India and across the globe have brought us to the realization that it is high time for understanding and studying health from a holistic approach as it involves various cross-cutting issues. This course will orient the learners about the basic ideas of day to day health and social determinants of health issues. The transaction of the course primarily will include engaging learners through discussions on /around, emerging health problems, the role of surrounding environment and participation of community members and other stakeholders in facilitating care at the individual as well as societal level. Broadly, the course covers a conceptual/situational /socio-cultural/ scientific/theoretical domain of human well-being and health through the perspective of cross-cultural studies of different societies/communities bringing the importance of cultural competence and various factors of social change. It can also mould the students toward community studies and research for a better society.

Course Outcomes:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of complex nature of health and health care systems.
  2. Identify and evaluate holistically the factors of human health such as geographical areas, socio-economic, bio-cultural and ecological.
  3. Apply the knowledge and understanding gained to study the changes in lifestyle behaviours and attitudes for a balanced individual and familial well-being.
  4. Exhibit critical thinking and scientific temperament while explaining health choices, human behaviour and in creative and pragmatic problem solving around health issues.
  5. Explain scope for individual and community participation in health care service related activities, awareness and analysis of available health care schemes and policies.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Module 1: Introduction to the concept of health and society

This module deals with the concept of health which is more understood from the perspectives of sociology of sickness and illness considering it as key to the wellness of a society; notion of improving health through behavioural changes of the individual members of society and available measures. An overview of health and mortality analysis will help in understanding a society at large.

Module 2: Historical perspectives of Medicine and health

This module will discuss the historical perspectives of understanding health and its measures or the genesis of medicine in the form of different medical systems. How different medicine has been developed and studied at different space and time.

Module 3: Dimensions of Health

This deals with the specific dimensions mentioned in the definition of health provided by WHO. The cube model of health will be discussed to understand the details of dimensions and elements present within it. The network of the elements or factors present, addition of new elements will also be discussed to deal with the expanding horizons of health.

Module 4: Determinants of Health

This will study the factors which influence health at individual and societal level. The interactional process of such factors and the resultant effect to the health of individuals or communities will be discussed using case studies.

Module 5: Perspectives of Health and Society

This will include ways of understanding health and society from the clinical perspectives, epidemiological and public health perspectives, or socio-cultural perspectives using multidisciplinary approach.

Module 6: Health Care systems

This module deals with various health care systems of curing and caring the patients particularly focusing on the Indian Health care systems. It will include both traditional and modern methods of health care systems and the relationships established in a medical system. A comparative analysis of health care systems and performance record will help in exploring the attitudes, behaviours and understanding of different societies.

Module 7: Diet, Nutrition and Social sanctions

This module will focus on the meaning of healthy body provided that everyone follows certain norms sanctioned by the society. The cultural classification of dietary habits or foods based on religion or region will highlight a great connection of food, medicine and diseases in the social structure and organisation. This will be related with the science of food using information such as nutrients and toxins.

Module 8: Lifestyle changes and health

This will relate to the illicit actions of drinking alcohols, tobacco chewing and smoking, drug addicts resulting into physical and mental abnormalities showing inability to prevent and fight from certain illnesses and diseases. An effort will be made to advise the students to collect available national level data of such actions and reactions for classroom discussion.

Module 9: Socio-economic status and Environmental Health

This module deals with the varied range of socio-economic status of members of society and its effect on health particularly through environmental exposures. How environmental health is understood from socio-economic status and inequalities pertaining to the level of exposures to ecological hazards. Health inequalities will also be discussed pertaining to gender and ageing.

Module10: Cross cultural studies of health

Case studies of different societies based on the social structure and health care systems available will be discussed to interpret and understand the network of relationships and existing health care systems. This will also incorporate the nature of change or system of medicine accepted by different communities to adjust with the changing world.

Module 11: Global Health and emerging issues

This will discuss about the spread of diseases at global level due to industrialization, climate change and other issues of gender inequality, disability, violence and fear. Some of the diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, hepatitis will be discussed along with their preventive measures.

Module 12: Health care policies

This module will provide an intensive way of looking at the existing health policies where, students need to think critically about the defined law and policies and its implication on society(ies), to provide an adequate strategy in matters of individual and public health issues. For this, major focus will be given to the health policies of India.

Assessment Details with weights:

There will be three assessments

  1. First Assignment (class test/in-class activities, project report) 30%
  2. Second Assignment ( In-class activities) 30%
  3. End semester Exam 40%

Reading List:

  • A movie on ageing “The Separation”.
  • Berlin, E.N., & Fowkes, W.C. (1983). A teaching framework for cross-cultural health case. The Western Journal of Medicine, 139(6): 934-938.
  • Bhatia,S.& Dhindsa, P.K. Health status in India: An inter-state analysis. Retrieved from
  • Carr, S., Unwin,N. & Pless-Mulloli, T. (2007).The determinants of health and disease. In An Introduction to Public health and epidemiology (pp.83-96). New York: OUP.
  • Donatelle, R.J. & Davis, L.G. (1996). Access to health (Unit 13 or 14) 4th Edn. London: Allyn and Bacon.
  • Eberst, R.M.(1984). Defining health: A multidimensional model, JOSH,54(3),99-104.
  • Evans G.W., and E. Kantrowitz. 2002. Socioeconomic status and health: The potential role of environmental risk exposure. Annual Review of Public Health 23:303–31.
  • Foster, G.M., & Anderson, B.G. (1978). Medical Anthropology. (Unit 3 & 4)New York: John Willy and Sons.
  • Hansen, E., & Easthope,G.(2007). Lifestyle in Medicine: Critical studies in health and society (34-51) NY: Routledge.
  • Helman, C.G. (2001). Diet and nutrition. In Culture, Health and Illness (32-49pp.). London: Arnold
  • Last, J.M. (1998). Human health in a changing world. In Public health and human ecology (395-426pp.).Ottawa: Prentice Hall International, Inc.
  • Magner, L.N. (2005). A history of Medicine (chapter 2 & 3) New York: Taylor and Francis.
  • Malcolm, M. (2006). Global Health. In Culture and Health: A critical perspectives towards global health (pp. 259-280). NY: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
  • Malcom, M. (2006). Understanding cultural differences. In Culture and health: A critical perspective towards global health (pp. 38-63). NY: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.
  • McElroy, A., & Townsend, P.K.(2009). Medical anthropology in an ecological perspective (pp. 42-59). Westview Press.
  • McKeown, T. Determinants of health, Retrieved from http//
  • National Health Policy 2017 (the recent document will be used)
  • Park, K. (2002). Man and Medicine: Towards Health for All in preventive and social medicine (1-10 pp.) New Delhi: B Jain Publishers.
  • Park, K. (2002). Preventive and social medicine (11-12pp.) New Delhi: B Jain Publishers.
  • Park, K. (2002). Preventive and social medicine (15-17pp.) New Delhi: B Jain Publishers.
  • Park, K. (2002). Preventive and Social medicine (pp.12-14) New Delhi: B Jain Publishers.
  • Qadeer,I.(2008). Health planning in India: Some lessons from the past. Social Scientist,36 (5-6): 51-75.
  • Thomas, R.K.(2002). Introduction to sociology of health and illness. In Society and health: Sociology for health professionals (pp.1-10). NY: Kluwer Academic publication.
  • Trostle, J. A.(2005). Epidemiology and Culture (Unit 1). New York: Cambridge University Press
  • World Health Organisation. Malaria Incidence (API), Mortality and case fertility rate in SEAsia Region from 1994-2011. Available at
  • World Health Organisation. Natural toxins in food. Fact sheet. Geneva, WHO Available at
  • World Health Organization. Gender and health. Fact Sheet. Geneva, WHO. Available at