Health Inequities: Can we delay anymore?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Anika Tabassum Totini, a student of Bangladesh Medical College, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 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 writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

“A girl born today can expect to live for more than 80 years if she is born in some countries – but less than 45 years if she is born in others”_This precisely implies how serious health inequity is. Health inequity is defined as the systematic and unjust distribution of the critical conditions such as healthy food, good housing, good education, safe neighborhoods, freedom from racism and other forms of discrimination that support health. The poorest of the poor, around the world, have the worst health. The distribution of global and national wealth around the world has created gaps and those at the bottom of it, those marginalized and excluded within countries, and countries themselves disadvantaged by historical exploitation and persistent inequity demand an urgent moral and practical focus for action. Keeping the whole mass in mind, medical students can tackle inequalities in health around the world in following ways: 

•Leadership and advocacy in development of health system: 

The health sector requires a leadership and advocacy role in the development of policies to deal with the social determinants of health by institutionalizing consideration of health and health equity impact in national and international economic agreements and policy-making. Building healthy public policy, creating supportive environments, strengthening community action, developing personal skills and reorienting health services in their own surroundings can bring about a massive change in the whole dynamic of the social spectrum in a positive way. 

•Action on Social Determinants:

Sometimes, lack of health care is not the cause of illness: water-borne diseases are not caused by lack of antibiotics but by dirty water, and by the political, social, and economic forces that fail to make clean water available to all. Thus action on social determinants is necessary that can be taken stepwise: i) Small-scale program and policy initiatives: community health promotion or disease prevention projects. ii) Traditional public health program and policy initiatives: traditional public health programs, processes, and organizational structures. iii) Large-scale program and policy initiatives: to directly reduce inequities in social determinants of health caused by factors such as poverty, racism or an unhealthy physical environment.

•Closing the health gap in a generation by glamorizing impactful community initiatives, sustainability and collaboration: 

“Project Brotherhood” is an initiative taken by a black men’s clinic at Woodlawn Health Center, Chicago, Illinois. They have creative approaches such as: employs a barber who gives 30–35 free haircuts per week and who received health education training to be a health advocate for black men, discourages violence among the next generation of black men by producing “County Kids,” a comic book that teaches children how to deal with conflict without resorting to violence. The goal is to bring these initiatives to the limelight by doing proper research on them and make it even more impactful by collaboration. 

Reducing health inequities has become an ethical imperative since social justice is a matter of life and death. We can’t delay anymore, the time to take action is now. 

About the author

Anika Tabassum Totini is a student of Bangladesh Medical College, Dhaka, Bangladesh. She is currently serving as the Local Officer on Research Exchange, BMSS-Bangladesh. She’s always looking for ways to explore and expand her horizon in things that scare her. Apart from being a Health & Rights advocate and a research enthusiast, she writes contents on issues concerning health to raise awareness. Her aim is to bring impactful changes, one step at a time. 


  1. rohitsaklle536 says:

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