We Are More Likely Than Unlikely

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Farzana Anjum Shusmita, a 5th year Medical student from Bangladesh Medical College. She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

First let us take a look at what “Intersectionality” means. The experience of which intersects with those of other adversities arising from a diversity of social inequalities and oppressive identities like gender, sexuality, ethnicity and financial status – is a concept called “intersectionality”.

This concept  was first introduced by Kimberlé Crenshaw in order to highlight the dynamics between race and gender, and the overlapping oppressions that African American women face as a result of such an intersection. Intersectionality and health care are allied to each other.

Health-related stigma is a complex phenomenon rooted in social inequality, power asymmetry and systemic hierarchy. This mediates the process of stigmatization by oppressing those affected. Intersectionality can help us understand how to effectively and sustainably address a myriad of health challenges. For example, the quality of care and the issues that black women face as patients is largely different from the quality of care that black male patients experience in non-racially competent hospitals.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women die 3 times more often giving birth. More recently, on July 5th, 2020, The New York Times published an article detailing the racial inequity of the coronavirus. Blacks are at high risk for severe illness were 1.6 times as likely as Whites to live in households containing health-sector workers.

 Among Hispanic adults at high risk for severe illness, 64.5% lived in households with at least one worker who was unable to work from home, versus 56.5% among Black adults and only 46.6% among White adults.

In the wake of senseless deaths caused by acts of police brutality and a serious overhaul in the way we approach justice and incarceration, it is imperative that we include a critical reexamination of the biases present in our healthcare systems in this agenda.

In order to penetrate barriers that exist in healthcare, we need to consider intersectionality, and the fact that we can’t fully combat one social issue without taking into account the implications of others. To combat this together we should adopt an Intersectional based approach –

●Unpack our biases and underlying assumptions

●Cultivate intergroup contacts where we can  meet and have a dialogue with individual members of diverse groups.

●Find common ground and focus on what we have in common with the individual members of the groups that we  tend to stereotype.

●Educate ourselves and others by promoting and participating in training and educational programs within our organization and community to increase awareness.

●Build partnerships by  considering individuals from diverse groups as equal collaborators.

●Elevate voices by prioritizing and amplifying the perspectives of people living at the intersection of multiple types of marginalization..

●Stay accountable by  reading, learning, changing and working to promote true equality for all.

About the author

Farzana Anjum Shusmita is a 5th year Medical student from Bangladesh Medical College. She is the National Officer on Human Rights and Peace (term 2021-22) from Bangladesh Medical Students Society. She is actively involved in activities related to human rights, peace and humanitarian actions for the past 4 years through this organization. She was pleased to be able to contribute to the society through her voluntary work on raising awareness and educating people.

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