Human health is the result of the interaction of genetic, nutritional, socio-cultural, economic, physical infrastructure and ecosystem factors. All of the individual, social, cultural and socioeconomic factors are influenced by the environment they are embedded in and by changes in this environment. The aim of the paper is to illustrate the influence of environmental change on living conditions and life style and some of the mechanisms through which such changes affect physical and mental health. The interrelationship between environmental and societal change is illustrated by an example from a small community in Greenland, where changing environmental conditions have influenced fishing and employment opportunities to the extent that the size of the population has changed dramatically. The link between social change and health is shown with reference to studies on education, housing and occupation as well as life style changes. The paper further illustrates the relationship between the rapid socio-cultural and economic change and the health of the population. Psychosocial stress is reflected in problems such as alcohol abuse, violence and suicide, and these factors have been shown in studies on migration and transitions in health to be connected to changes in lifestyle and living conditions.
This paper describes an urban street addict pattern, catting, living outside conventional shelter structures. The dynamics of this indigenous pattern are outlined and then some speculations for intake and treatment are presented.