What is Health Equity?

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Image source: www.studying-in-us.org

BY ALLISON BROWN

I recently heard a story about an Aboriginal man who had a heart attack and was taken to a local emergency department. He was not “hooked” up to any monitors nor was his pain being managed. When the young Aboriginal intern who happened to be the patient’s daughter asked the attending physician why her father was not “hooked up”, he said, “…we do not know what he is on”.  The physician and the health care providers assumed he was “on something” because he was an Aboriginal man and therefore was being improperly treated based on bias and prejudice. The lack of treatment could have had major repercussions for the patient’s overall heath outcome.

“…Health equity is about creating the circumstances where avoidable

differences or inequalities in health – that is health inequities – among groups are reduced and eventually eliminated…

(http://en.healthnexus.ca/sites/en.healthnexus.ca/files/resources/health-equity-ontario-raphael_2014_.pdf).  It is quite clear that the patient was not being treated equitably. The Hippocratic Oath seems to have gone out of the window not to mention the practice standards of the other professionals to treat everyone fairly without regard for gender, race, creed, sexual orientation, etc.

This story reminds me of when I as a newly graduated nurse had to care for a gentleman who was diagnosed with AIDS back in the early ‘90s. I did not judge him, I just cared for him as I was taught to.  I was nervous and scared, being a new nurse. During my career as a nurse, I have had to take care of patients with SARS and mental health issues. Again, no assumptions were made on my part.  

What came out of the initial incident that I described is that health care professionals will have the opportunity to take sensitivity training provided by the patient’s daughter.  Already she noted that in one of her sessions a participant indicated to her that the residential schools must have worked because she turned out ok. Cleary this comment was very hurtful and obviously the source of the comment did not grasp the depth and breadth of the destruction and the catastrophic impact of residential schools on the Aboriginal population.  

It is 2017, why is there still a need to have separate and unequal provisions for the Aboriginal people of this nation?  The truth and reconciliation

recommendations are a step in equalizing Aboriginals in Canada. The Federal Liberal government had promised $1.2-billion over five years to build new homes, child-care centers and nursing stations on reserves and in Inuit and Northern communities. The federal government must follow through on their promises going forward. We must be our brother and sister’s keepers because we can be impacted by unequal healthcare access as well.

As we go forward in 2017, become advocates for yourself and your loved ones for health equity.  It is a fundamental right, morally and because we pay taxes!  The collective tax revenue is collected and should then be dispersed equitably through federal and provincial transfer payments. This is important to note because the government is in contention with the provinces over the new Health Accord and how much money should be given to the provinces to “manage” healthcare. The Federal Liberals have a “take it or leave it” attitude and both parties are still in negotiations. This is important to know because it will eventually affect how health care is experienced “on the ground”.  

Health Equity is an important issue. People are the most important component to society.  Healthy people enhance society while unhealthy people can have a negative impact on society as well as their own quality of life.  The playing field must be levelled so that society and people in general will have equitable opportunity to experience good health.

This article is dedicated to the loyal readers of 2016 and new readers in 2017.  Be blessed.

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