The world, no matter how you categorize it, is ripe with inequities. All over the globe, people are suffering from avoidable hardships, unfair conditions, and unjust circumstances. People are marginalized by race, religion, ethnicity, location, etc. and there are serious consequences. Health disparities are a huge way in which these people are penalized in ways that are no fault of their own. These are disparities such as lack of access to basic human needs, health care, infrastructure, education, and the list goes on. In most places, the ability to provide is not the issue, it is the willingness to share the “wealth” that many places struggle with. Corrupt dictators sit on their thrones of gold while their people starve on their dirt floors.
When there are disparities, especially in health, there result avoidable deaths. The WHO estimates that better use of existing preventive measures could reduce the global burden of disease by as much as 70% (WHO, 3). That means that we already have much of the needed solutions, but why are we not implementing them? For example, Diarrheal Disease is a preventable, avoidable disease; with basic sanitation and access to clean water, a huge difference could be made in eradicating the affliction. Why are these things not being put into place?
For one, we need to better address those who are being affected by disparities. According to the Weber and Fore article, Race, Ethnicity, and Health: An Intersectional Approach, “One of the difficulties encountered when attempting to identify, understand, and redress health inequalities is getting access not only to health data that represent multiple racial/ ethnic groups but also to data that reflect significant variations within those groups across genders, socioeconomic statuses, social classes, and sexual orientations” (Weber and Fore, 193). In the same article, the authors quote Mullings and Wali as saying, “a fundamental part of the process of addressing health disparities lies in reconceptualizing health as a characteristic of societies and a human right” (Weber and Fore, 210).
What we can take from this is that we need to change the way we look at the disparities, by getting our hands dirty. We need to get into these places and ask questions, not answer them ourselves. The extent of human suffering is vast, but it needs to be witnessed in order to gain solutions. If these people can bare to live their lives full of inequities, inequalities, and misfortune, we can bare to listen to what they have to say.
The following video is of the graduation speech Bill Gates made at Harvard University encouraging the addressing and eradicating of global inequities.