I am in agreement with the speaker’s main idea that health professions can stand in the gap and address the structural inequalities and social injustices that are the stumbling block to equitable healthcare. Social justice is a concept that advocates for fairness for all in society regardless of gender, sex, race, and economic status (Lucas 223). Social justice in healthcare results in the delivery of quality care for all individuals. Fighting for social justice in healthcare is paramount to ensure that all people can have unlimited access to the highest level of health and well-being. As the speaker says, Health professionals should no longer feel helpless against the structural inequalities that make violation of human rights in healthcare possible. They do not need to have all the answers to bring sanity to healthcare, they just need to have the courage to speak against social injustices and structural inequalities. This discussion highlights the role of health professionals in promoting social justice and the ways they can address the structural inequalities existing in healthcare today.
Choosing not to talk about structural inequalities and social injustices does not mean that they are not happening (Acosta and Kupiri 286). The truth is, racism exists, structural inequalities exist, and human rights abuses are widespread in the healthcare system today. Health professionals are stewards of a profession that requires them to help everyone to live a productive and healthy life. Besides offering treatment, health professions have a bigger role in identifying the disparities and inequalities in their areas of practice. Disparities are essentially the differences that are associated with the environmental and economic disadvantages of a particular group. Health disparities negatively affect populations that have systematically experienced barriers to health based on their ethnic or racial group. Identifying and recognizing the disparities and their impacts on health outcomes is the first step towards improving health for all groups.
It is ethical for health professionals to care about social justice because they have a mandate to provide patients with better opportunities to heal and recover. Regardless of their specialty, health workers are in a unique position to promote equity and social justice, given the amount of trust and the level of interaction with patients (Lucas 226). In addition, the holistic training that health workers undergo puts them in a better position to adhere to ethical principles that include being advocates of social justice. Recent actions by health workers in the United States, for example, the Black Lives Matter movement demonstrate that health workers are beginning to raise their voice against unethical practices. During the Covid-19 pandemic, health professionals, particularly nurses have also been at the forefront in providing care to underserved groups in society (Lucas 228). Much has also been achieved as far as educating marginalized communities on safe practices to minimize the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Thus, maintaining ethical values in healthcare is important for health workers as it allows them to make good decisions based on values while keeping the laws that govern their practice.
Promoting social justice in healthcare allows people to acknowledge diversity in the community and the nation at large. For example, by empowering patients to become their own advocates, health workers help patients to create a positive change in their lives as well as those of their communities (Wilbur et al. 225)Health workers build the patients’ sense of urgency to change their own situations, which alleviates divisions in the community. Further to this, health professionals promote diversity and social change by offering patient-centered care in a non-biased manner. Social justice and diversity are achieved when all stakeholders in healthcare are encouraged to acknowledge diversity and the aspects that make people different. Diversity is achieved within the health settings only when treatment plans are personalized to reflect the wishes, beliefs, and preferences of every patient. There is a close relationship between better health outcomes and health workers who embrace diversity (Wilbur et al. 227). It should be understood that diversity without inclusion is simply ineffective. Healthcare organizations should not only hire from a wide variety of backgrounds but allow the voice of every professional to be heard. Healthcare organizations can reduce the disparities of care among different ethnic and cultural groups by creating diverse care delivery models. Creating culturally aware environments where health workers can speak multiple languages also cultivates diversity in the healthcare system.
There are a plethora of benefits for social justice and equity in healthcare including ensuring everyone has free access to quality healthcare. The importance of good health cannot be underestimated because it is a matter of life and death. Health workers essentially determine who gets what service and how much they have to pay to access the care they need (Waite and Stephanie 891). So, when health workers strive for social justice, they are essentially working for affordable, better insurance plans, access to proper medication, and much more. Social justice protects people against sexual-based discrimination and calls for treating people with fairness. For example, members of the LGBT community are frequently discriminated against and are less likely to get regular health care. Notably, LGBT members have higher rates of HPV infections as well as anal and cervical cancers. Social justice calls for health organizations to adhere to legislation and other laws that call for the provision of the highest attainable healthcare standards to members of LGBT with0out discrimination.
Discrimination on the basis of race is another social concern in most societies, especially in Europe. Besides preventing people from accessing quality health care, racism makes it difficult for people of color to work where they wish, marry the people they want, and live in peace (Phillips-Beck et al 17). Social justice calls for people of all races to live well and have equal access to opportunities. The gap between the poor and the rich is also expanding. The fact that some people live below a dollar and always struggle to meet their basic needs, while others have millions of dollars is simply unfair. Social justice seeks to promote economic equality by securing everyone’s economic prosperity. Discrimination on the basis of gender is another form of social injustice that health workers have to fight in the course of their daily work (Phillips-Beck et al 18). Women and girls are historically oppressed and taken advantage of in society. The situation is even worse if they are members of another oppressed group like religion or race. Social justice calls for health workers to strive to reduce the gap by ensuring equity when dealing with women regardless of their background, gender, race, culture, and ethnic group.
Overall, health professionals are in a better position to promote social justice and equity in healthcare given the amount of trust and the level of interaction they have with patients. The code of ethics requires health workers to act ethically and promote equity for all in the healthcare system. Besides helping health professionals to acknowledge diversity, social justice comes with plenty of benefits. When practiced appropriately, social justice bridges the expanding gap between the rich and the poor. It also prevents discrimination against patients on the basis of their gender, race, religion, or sexual affiliation. Thus, as Mary Bassett suggests, health workers should seize every opportunity they have to promote social justice and ensure equity in healthcare. They do not need to have all answers to bring change in their practice, but bold courage to speak against social injustices and structural inequalities witnessed in the health care system today. By supporting and rallying behind movements that promote equity in healthcare, health workers essentially work towards attaining social justice.
Acosta, David, and Kupiri Ackerman-Barger. “Breaking the silence: time to talk about race and racism.” Academic medicine 92.3 (2017): 285-288.
Lucas, Todd. “Health consequences and correlates of social justice.” The Wiley encyclopedia of health psychology (2020): 223-230.
Phillips-Beck, Wanda, et al. “Confronting racism within the Canadian healthcare system: systemic exclusion of first nations from quality and consistent care.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17.22 (2020): 8343.
Waite, Roberta, and Stephanie Brooks. “Cultivating social justice learning & leadership skills: a timely endeavor for undergraduate student nurses.” Nurse Educ Today 34.6 (2014): 890-893.
Wilbur, Kirsten, et al. “Developing workforce diversity in the health professions: a social justice perspective.” Health Professions Education 6.2 (2020): 222-229.