Different research done over the last two decades on the aspect of race and health in the United States indicate there has been many disparities between the health of different ethnic and racial groups in the country. The possible causes of these disparities between different ethnic groups may include factors such as genetics, racism, and socioeconomic factors between different racial groups in the country. It is also important to mention that the black populations in the sub Saharan Africa as well as many in the South American countries such as Haiti are not able to access high quality healthcare services because they do not have access to good healthcare institutions or they are very poor to afford these services (Burnell & Schnackenberg, 2017).
This is a major problem that different stakeholders such as governments should come together and seek to come up with measures that can help improve the lives of the people living in these countries. Research has shown that health care practitioners show “implicit bias” in the manner in which they treat their patients (Clark, 2018). In the United States, racism involves stereotypes based on race as well as economic and political affiliation. This paper will focus mainly on racism meted towards the African Americans population in the healthcare industry and how this form of discrimination can be stopped and stop disenfranchising this population of vulnerable people any further (Clark, 2018).
The main characteristic that cuts across all the vulnerable populations across the world is poverty. Most poverty-stricken populations across the world are characterized by poor health that stems from poor sanitation as well as the lack of resources that can afford them high quality medical services (Burnell & Schnackenberg, 2017). This means that when one gets sick they are at the mercy of quacks or even traditional medical procedures that do not guarantee good health.
Lack of education leading to high rates of ignorance has been described as one of the major reasons for health discrepancy between a disenfranchised population and the most privileged people across the world. The many populations in sub Saharan Africa can exemplify this more so in Kenya in East Africa and many countries in southern Africa where they do not believe HIV/AIDS does not exist.
Mental health has been described as one type of health problem where there is a very huge discrepancy. Stress is one major contributor to mental health, it can be derived from a number of individualistic expressions or factors, and it can lead to multiple effects of an individual. Stress has also been linked to chronic diseases such as heart problems (Clark, 2018). Racism in the United States society against the blacks adds a daily psychological burden to them and even though they do not realize it at the time, these stressors may be contributing towards their bad mental states. It has been shown that daily stresses the black person undergoes in the United states and many other countries across the globe has led to an increased rate of mental disorders such as depression and anxiety making it hard for these people to live their lives like other members of the society (Malgady, 2016). Different groups of people are also affected in ways that may not outwardly appear as discrimination but through economics, education, the justice system, and mainly through law enforcement.
It is also important to mention that many individuals who hold racist principles may have mental health problems that make it hard for them to offer healthcare to black Americans as they possess a number of vices such as inability to empathize, self-centeredness, and paranoia over groups of people they are racially discriminating against (Clark, 2018). This is a major factor that has contributed to health discrepancy in the United States and other countries across the world (Burnell & Schnackenberg, 2017). Other countries located in Africa and in Latin America are characterized by the same discriminations that make it very hard for the economically challenged populations in these countries.
The United Nation through the World Health Organization invented the Millennium Development Goals with an eight point agenda with an aim of improving the lives of the least fortunate members of the society by the end of 2015. The declaration was signed by all 191 members of the United Nations in September of 2000 and it committed all 191 heads of states with the duty and responsibility of combating poverty, disease, hunger, illiteracy, discrimination against women, and environmental degradation (Clark, 2018).
The first agenda of the Millennium Development Goals is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger in all regions of the world. Research shows that as many as half of the world’s population live in poverty with three billion people living on less than $2.50 a day. 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty where they can only afford to spend less than one dollar a day. This figure is compounded by the fact that 22,000 children across the world die each day as a direct result of poverty (Malgady, 2016). The second agenda in the Millennium Development Goals agreement is to attain universal primary education for all children who have attained the age of attending school. Research shows that there is a positive correlation between illiteracy and poor health in the population in schools. Children would be taught simple health measures such as washing hands after visiting a toilet as well as washing them before eating. This can play a long way in enhancing the health of the less privileged in society. Goals that seek to improve the lives of women in the society include promoting gender equality and empowering women, improving maternal health, and to reduce child mortality. These three goals were specifically meant to improve the lives of women by empowering them socially, economically, politically and in terms of health, especially expectant women (Malgady, 2016). Many countries across the globe have been seeking to improve the lives of women. Infant mortality rates in many sub-Saharan countries such as Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe have been on the decrease as the governments of these nations have taken upon themselves to come up with measures aimed at reducing these deaths.
The agreement also sought to come up with a resolution aimed at reducing the effects of HIV/AIDS scourge. These measures were based on reducing ignorance about the disease, reducing stigmatization of people with HIV/AIDS, and promoting safe sex in these populations. Despite the fact that HIV/AIDS is one of the diseases that can be easily prevented, it has turned into a big disaster in many sub-Saharan countries. In South Africa for example, the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS is 19%. Swaziland and Botswana have 27% and 23.4 % of their total populations ravaged by this disease (Malgady, 2016). These grim figures show the extent at which this disease is ravaging most populations in Africa and drastic measures need to be taken to reduce the spread of this deadly disease. It is however important to mention that some African countries have made positive strides against the fight against HIV/AIDS scourge. Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda have implemented programs that have educated their populations against this disease. Many of these programs have centered on safe sex and the use of condoms (Malgady, 2016). This has seen a drastic use of condoms over the last two decades and it has resulted in a decrease in the number of new infections. The last two goals of the Millennium Development Goals involve the environment. They involve having measures that can guarantee environmental sustainability as well as developing global partnership to help in developing third world countries.
Medical professions have a major role to play in ending the health disparity affecting the less privileged in the society. One way they can achieve this is through forming Non-Profit Organizations whose main objective is to visit less privileged societies across the world and offer them medical services. Currently, the Red Cross and Doctors without Borders offer doctors with a platform where they can be able to offer free services to the most destitute communities in the world (Malgady, 2016). Doctors can therefore join one of these organizations or even come together with like minded professionals and form a group with the main agenda of traveling to poverty stricken societies in Latin America or Africa and offer their services to these people.
As a future stakeholder in the healthcare industry, I strongly believe that I will have a major role to play in upholding the ethical norms that guide the work of medical practitioners in the industry. Just like any other industry, medical practitioners are required to adhere to ethical standards at all times when they are performing their duties. Burnell & Schnackenberg, (2017) defines medical ethical standards as a set of moral beliefs, principles, and values that guide medical practitioners when making choices in the course of their duties. Doctors and nurses should think about ethical aspects of any health care decisions before they make any decision, as this will help them in making choices that are right, fair, good, and just. Ethical standards are normally based on four principles (Malgady, 2016). The first one is the principle of autonomy where doctors are required to honor patients’ right to make their own decision. The second one is the principle of beneficence that requires doctors to help patients advance their own goodwill. The third principle is that of non-maleficence that requires all medical practitioners to not do any harm at all times. The duty of professionals working in healthcare institutions is to treat and empathize with their patients. They should at no time harm their patients or be rude to their family members and friends (Malgady, 2016). The last principle is based on justice and it calls all medical professionals to act in a manner that can be deemed as fair at all times.
Burnell, B., & Schnackenberg, H. (2017). The Ethics of Cultural Competence in Higher
Education. Chicago, IL: CRC Press.
Clark, C. (2018). Health Promotion in Communities: Holistic and Wellness Approaches. New
York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
Malgady, R. (2016). Cultural Competence in Assessment and Intervention with Ethnic
Minorities: Some Perspectives from Psychology and Social Work
mpetence in Assessment, Diagnosis, And Intervention With Ethnic Minorities: Some from Psychology, Social Work, and Education. New York, NY: Bentham Science Publishers.
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