How Can Medical Students Tackle Health Inequities around the World?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Anthony Collins, a fourth year Medical Student from UWI Mona in Kingston, Jamaica. He 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.

Health inequity as defined by the WHO are systematic differences in the health status of different groups of people. This means that certain groups of people experience worse healthcare and increasing difficulty in accessing healthcare due to systems that rule over them. Examples of these inequities include health status (eg. life expectancy), access to care (eg availability of services), quality of care (eg. levels of patient satisfaction) and determinants of health (biological, psychological and social). These are deep rooted in our society and not only affect the individuals or community but the wider healthcare system. To make a change, preferably long lasting, everyone needs to do their part in addressing these issues.

As medical students we can play our part in tackling these health inequities. Advocacy is one such role- the voices of those affected by the inequities can be represented. Policymakers and government officials can be pressured as well to make the relevant changes. Said advocacy can come in many forms including raising awareness through campaign, highlighting in the media on various platforms including newspaper, radio, TV interviews etc.

Further action can be taken by partnering strategically with other groups who have the same goal in a combined effort to meet with government officials to push for policy reform and implement policies with the affected group(s)’ input to better their accessibility, affordability and overall experience using healthcare systems.

Another role is through programmes such as health fairs and outreaches. These include going into the communities and/or affected areas to provide healthcare in the form of check-ups and wellness visits. This will act as a screening and monitoring system for said individuals to manage the health of the community and decrease the burden on the healthcare system. It can also solve the accessibility issue in rural areas. Other stakeholders can get involved to address the environmental issues that contribute to healthcare such as proper housing, clean water, waste disposal etc.

Lastly, patients can be educated to gain greater health literacy. This will better enable them to make more informed decisions about their health as well as manage their chronic conditions. This can be done in the form of showing them how to care for their wounds or illnesses, group discussions in simple language and distribution of material at their reading level. Alternative medicine is practiced by all in one form or another so this too can aid in their literacy if used correctly and not substituted when professional medical attention is necessary.

Greater inclusion of all groups is necessary to fight health inequities and reduce the significant rate of morbidity and mortality faced by those disadvantaged groups. This can be done mainly through healthcare policy change and reform as well as addressing the other determinants of health.


Health inequities and their causes.
What are health inequalities? | The King’s Fund (

About the author

Anthony Collins is a fourth year Medical Student from UWI Mona in Kingston, Jamaica. He’s very passionate about research, forensics and pathology and therefore spends his time gaining experience in those areas. He also volunteers to help those in need and the environment. He serves as the Vice President of External Affairs of JAMSA Jamaica (a member of IFMSA), secretary for the Rotaract Club of UWI Mona and Assistant Treasurer for UWI One Life where he gains further personal and professional development as a student leader serving his fellow students.

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: