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Medical Geography

Medical geography is the study of the spatial distribution of diseases. In certain climates and elevations, the prevalence of certain illnesses is more common than others. Thus, this field of medical geography aims to uncover the medical problems linked most directly with particular locations in order to implement proper health services. 

Medical geography, also commonly referred to as health geography, is often focused most heavily on identifying the presence of disease, rather than the existence of current health practices in particular places. In comparison to developed countries, developing countries face many more serious water-borne diseases due to the lack of safe drinking water and proper water infrastructure, which is not a major issue in developed countries. For instance, buruli ulcer is an infectious disease, caused by a bacterium which is commonly found in tropical and subtropical climates, and it can be contracted from drinking dirty water. In fact, other diseases, such as leprosy and tuberculosis are also rather common in these climates and belong to this same family of bacterial organisms.

Although historically medical geography was thought to be more concerned with mapping the existence of particular diseases around the globe, current study has changed this field, creating a broader scope. Essentially, this means that medical geographers are now more interested in understanding the relationship between environments, both socially and physically, and the individual/population characteristics of a place. From a geographical perspective, this illuminates the health inequalities which exist within different places and how this influences disease prevalence and the need for health services.

Overall, medical geography is a very practical course since an individual’s health/well-being is largely influenced by the environments which they are exposed to. Thus, the health of various social groups and across different temporal scales, for example regional vs. global, can be closely examined within this field of study. 



Title Image Credit: Christian Fischer / Wikimedia Commons

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