Global Healthcare Disparities: What can we do to reduce them?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Miss Tashfeen Nasira, a third-year medical student currently studying at Amna Inayat Medical College, Pakistan. 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.

nequities in healthcare pertain to preventable diseases that may be acquired due to an individual’s social status. Factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, religion, education, and income all contribute to disparities faced in healthcare accessibility. This has also been shown to decrease life expectancy rates in minority communities. However, steps can be taken by health administrators and medical professionals, and students like us to reduce the impact of health disparities in these communities.

First and foremost, raising awareness amongst healthcare providers is imperative to bring a revolution in healthcare. At every level, conversations around health inequity are important to encourage fellow medical practitioners and doctors of tomorrow to acknowledge the issue and pledge to recognize and eliminate their internal biases. Having health equity as an elective or as part of the curriculum can underscore the importance of the issue and will contribute to educating aspiring medical professionals. Similarly, on an institutional level, valuing diversity in healthcare and focusing on cultural competency training for medical students and interns may also be a positive step.

Another important factor in causing healthcare disparity is the lack of healthcare literacy in affected communities. The ability to understand and use health-related information to make informed health decisions is imperative in individuals who are at high-risk. Identifying and highlighting these high-risk groups and creating targeted educational programs would highly benefit them. Effective resource coordination towards the spread of literacy will also significantly help communities that are most affected by health disparities.

As young medical students, we must reach out to and collaborate with organizations that are working to change this health landscape for the better and address and eliminate the root causes that have created this disruptive cycle of health inequity. Outside of the curriculum, medical students should consider volunteering or intern with organizations that are working to promote health outcomes in demographics and areas that have suffered from healthcare disparities. These extra-curricular activities should further be endorsed by educational institutions and hospitals, so students see that there is an institutional focus towards this issue, and it rewards those who are working to mitigate it.

The information age of today brings with it a myriad of information at our fingertips. However, even with awareness greater than ever before, individuals subject to social, economic, and racial discrimination find themselves affected by health inequity the most. As medical students and future healthcare professionals, we must engage with government bodies and policymakers and urge action to help expand health coverage to these communities. We must encourage and empower people of colour and those who come from minority backgrounds who are a part of the healthcare workforce. They are underrepresented in the medical profession, producing fewer healthcare professionals per capita than their counterparts.

We must use our privilege to raise our voices for communities stuck in the loop of poverty with little to no resources dedicated to their well-being. Collectively, we can strive to improve health outcomes by working to reduce health disparities.

About the author

Miss Tashfeen Nasira is a third-year medical student currently studying at Amna Inayat Medical College, Pakistan. She has a great passion for writing and aims to increase awareness about the disparity in healthcare and improve its accessibility to low-income households and minorities in her country and worldwide through it.

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: