Last Updated on November 25, 2022 by Joshua Isibor
4 Reasons Why Health Equity Is So Important
Healthcare is the fundamental right of every individual. Yet we live in a world where individuals cannot access their primary rights because of blatant discrimination. When hospitals fail to provide equal care to everyone, it causes a disparity in healthcare outcomes. Half the population has good health, while the other half deals with avoidable diseases and illnesses like the common cold or the flu.
In extreme cases, the lack of access to vaccines and medications may result in widespread death and suffering. Following these facts, this is where the concept of health equity comes into play. So, what does health equity mean, and what makes it vital? Here’s what you need to know:
What Is Health Equity?
Health equity refers to the accessibility to information and service regardless of an individual’s social status. This definition also includes making healthcare possible irrespective of an individual’s ethnicity, age, sex, nationality, and religious identity. Similarly, health equity also recognizes the barriers to healthcare services, such as lack of infrastructure, poverty, and lack of resources. As a result, health equity is a significant public health concept, and if you wish to champion this cause, you can easily play your part.
To spearhead health equity, you must bridge the gap between healthcare and the community. If you’re already serving in the healthcare field, you can pursue higher education online to play your part. You can easily do this by obtaining a masters of public health online and using the knowledge and skills you pick up to help the population to tap into healthcare resources that can help them manage their well-being better.
Public health and health equity go hand in hand. Therefore, one cannot exist without the other since one is about community wellness while the other sets the guidelines that make healthcare achievable.
Why Is Health Equity Important?
The world we live in is discriminatory. When prejudices and biases take over, they prevent the community from tapping into their rights and erecting a massive wall between them and suitable healthcare options. For instance, people suffering from obesity are often presumed to be lazy and greedy. Consequently, a doctor may dismiss their concerns and not evaluate their ailments, causing them to succumb to painful illnesses that have nothing to do with their weight. While this is only an example, it’s a good glimpse into why health equity is essential. Here’s a deeper look into this concept:
1. Makes Healthcare Affordable
It is not easy for the population to pay for their medical expenses. Hospitals are notorious for charging an exuberant amount; if you don’t have insurance, you may have to pay twice that of those with coverage. One of the principles health equity acknowledges is how difficult it is for communities to pay for treatment. They may be too poor, lack resources, or not have enough to apply for insurance. In these circumstances, hospitals are encouraged to subsidize the cost of treatment or provide alternate options to those occupying a lower rung in the social ladder. These include setting up more retail clinics, offering weekly vaccine and screening tests for free, and exempting the lower-income community from paying medical taxes and charging them a reasonable price according to what they can pay.
2. Creates Culturally Aware Healthcare Reforms
Various patients may deny treatment because of their culture or religious beliefs. Patients generally have the right to refuse any treatment if they disagree. But the healthcare sector cannot discriminate based on culture and religion. Therefore, according to the health equity protocol, the healthcare sector should accommodate patients according to their needs. It includes providing options that align with their belief, including spiritual healing and holistic care as part of the treatment plan. For instance, if a patient is uncomfortable getting treated by a doctor of the opposite gender, they may request another healthcare practitioner.
3. Deals With Implicit Bias
A community cannot be subjected to stereotypes and prejudices. Yet the healthcare sector is guilty of this act. Because of implicit bias, numerous healthcare practitioners make it hard for patients to tap into healthcare resources. For instance, there’s a common misconception that black people have more pain tolerance and don’t need painkillers following an elaborate procedure. And this can put many black patients at risk and deprive them of the medication they need causing them immense pain and suffering. Implicit bias is a massive hurdle in achieving positive healthcare outcomes. It robs the population of their rights and limits them to little or no healthcare.
As a result, you’ll find a certain percentage of the people at a greater likelihood of developing chronic conditions while the rest get treated on time. Following the standards set by health equity, no practitioner should subject patients to narrow or biased views. Every patient should undergo the due process of getting inspected, examined, and tested for their condition. No health professional can treat a patient based on assumptions or use stereotypes to determine the diagnostic route.
4. Push For Equality in Nutrition
Many factors govern a community’s health. It includes the nutrition they can access and the food they can easily afford. The community can’t sustain itself when there is unequal food distribution, along with hiked-up prices. As a result, you’ll notice a variation in public health. It may include malnourished children, underweight pregnant women, and unhealthy adults who may be sporting diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, or skin conditions resulting from a lack of nutritious meals.
No community should be deprived of healthy meals. It falls on the state and policymakers to address this disparity, make edibles affordable, advocate for more nutritious school meals, and establish more soup kitchens that can feed the community on a large scale. Children with too much sugar in their diet may also have dental issues and struggle with obesity. If they cannot access protein and carbs, they’ll also have stunted growth and weak bones. A community’s healthcare situation can only improve if they all indulge in healthy meals, have good quality ingredients, and don’t rely on fast food for sustenance.
Health equity is a comprehensive concept that deals with the disparity in healthcare outcomes within a community. There are many reasons a population faces discrimination; unless these factors are addressed, society will struggle to stay healthy uniformly. And this is what makes health equity important. It recognizes these differences and encourages the healthcare sector to actively work on removing these barriers. And to begin with, health equity acknowledges how a lack of money and employment can make essential healthcare services like medicines out of the community’s reach. Other factors include eliminating cultural differences, reducing bias, and pushing for equality in food distribution.
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