Health Inequities and the role of medical schools and students in tackling them

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Dr. Kartikeya Ojha, Dr. Shampa Gupta, and Ms. Shreya Nandan, all Global Health advocates. They are 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.

The stellar gains in life expectancy and health over the past century have been accompanied by an increase in societal and health inequalities. An unjustified disparity in health is referred to as health inequality. Allowing health disparities to exist when they can be eliminated is unfair. Systematic disparities in health that appropriate measures could prevent are known as health inequalities.

The numerous social determinants of health and the healthcare systems contribute to the rising health disparity between the wealthiest and poorest members of our society. Inclusion health groups, such as those who experience homelessness, incarceration, substance abuse, and sex work, have significantly higher morbidity and death than the overall population. These groups represent the absolute end of health inequities. Additionally, persistent racial and ethnic differences and lacunae in healthcare access due to financial difficulties can result in even more significant anomalies in healthcare delivery. Even though there are health disparities almost everywhere, different countries have proved to have different levels of discrepancies.

Medical students have a moral obligation to fight for change since doing nothing is complicity. They are well-qualified and well-positioned to do so. Doctors are in an excellent position to become Virchow’s “natural attorneys of the poor,” strong and effective advocates for reform in healthcare and broader society. Whether they wish or employ it, medical student organisations have more and more lobbying power. The COVID-19 pandemic, where influential voices in healthcare have moulded the societal narrative of the epidemic and worked to correct widespread public misconceptions, has highlighted the necessity of strong medical students’ advocacy within broader society.

Medical schools must prepare students to work in an increasingly varied society. A growing need for physicians working in people-oriented specialities in medically underserved areas has been caused by shifting demographic trends and an ever-increasing healthcare system. All medical students should receive cross-cultural communication training to lessen social gaps in health. Medical schools and curricula remain mostly unsupportive of undergraduates’ passion for taking action against injustices. The undergraduate public health curriculum needs to be revolutionised to provide doctors of the future with the knowledge and motivation to address disparities. Epidemiology and statistics should be placed in context by focusing on individuals, stories, and experiences. Additionally, medical schools need to be careful not to lose sight of their obligations to and role in local communities.
Medical students must also transform their viewpoints, strategies, and methods of operation. The unique approach to learning about this issue is to engage with local communities and live it.

Medical students can set the example for a better understanding of the needs of various patient populations and their challenges by actively identifying the problems that local communities are most affected by. Understanding risk factors, health inequities, and greater chronic disease incidence in communities require understanding how poverty, food insecurity, and dietary practices interact.

About the author

Dr. Kartikeya Ojha, Dr. Shampa Gupta, and Ms. Shreya Nandan are Global Health advocates. Dr.Kartikeya, an incredible public speaker, working as a Medical Intern in Sikkim, is a voracious researcher. He aspires to become a compassionate Interventional Cardiologist. Dr. Shampa Gupta, working as a Cardiac RMO, Hospital in West Bengal. Is a passionate researcher, and wants to make a change in the future, and people’s lives with her knowledge and skill. Shreya, a 4th-year medical student in Sikkim, aspires to be a general surgeon someday. She is passionate about using her skills and education for the benefit of humanity.

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: