HOMELESS: HEALTH PROBLEMS
Homelessness can often cause or be caused by serious health problems...
- Illnesses that are closely associated with homelessness and poverty include: tuberculosis, AIDS/HIV, malnutrition, dental problems;
- other health problems in society such alcoholism, mental illnesses, and physical disabilities are even more debilitating for the homeless, since they may have no shelter or money to manage the problem;
- people without shelter could easily get frostbite, get infections, or be victims of violence (very often sexual abuse), even in public shelters;
Since the late 1980s, poverty has also been linked to the states’ decreasing capacity to provide, to the majority of citizens, the minimum conditions for entry to the market…
- in the developed world, safety nets are failing some of the most vulnerable sections of society.
- each year millions of homeless people worldwide need important health care services but most do not have health insurance or cash to pay for medical care. Finding health care is an enormous challenge for the homeless;
- cross-sectional surveys of urban homeless populations conducted in the United States describe between 41% and 81% as not having health insurance. This proportion is less for homeless families. However, 26% of homeless families - versus 2% of housed families - lacked health insurance.
Premature mortality is higher among homeless populations…
- in Europe, cases of suicide among the homeless have been reported as 35 times more likely to occur than in the general population, and attempted suicide is also very common, particularly among the young homeless;
- a recent study carried out in the United Kingdom showed that those living in poor economic, health or social conditions, who are receiving social security and assistance in the form of “bed and breakfast” accommodation, have death rates 5 times those of the housed population;
- a ten-year follow-up study of a cohort of homeless people in Denmark described age and sex standardized mortality ratios of 2.8 for men, 5.6 for women, 6.0 for suicide, 2.6 for natural causes, 14.6 for unintentional injuries and 62.9 for unknown causes;
- premature mortality is confirmed by research from Germany that considered post mortem and autopsy findings of 388 deaths of homeless people. The average age of death was 44.5 years with unnatural causes accounting for a high percentage (62.6% deaths due to intoxications). Infection was the most common natural cause of death, at 16.8%.