Medical Ethics & Treatment of Diarrheal Disease

In arguing that health care is a human right, one signs on to a lifetime of work dedicated to erasing double standards from rich and poor. Again, the question of social and economic rights is raised, first and loudly by the poor, and then timidly and reluctantly by the rest of us. (Farmer, 103).

Paul Farmer states that there is a “double standard of medical ethics” between the developing and the developed worlds and uses this comparison to draw attention to the differential standards of care between the rich and the poverty stricken. Diarrheal disease is largely a product of social inequality, where those with the means to access resources, like clean water, are exempt from the consequences of untreated diarrheal disease. Strategic treatment and prevention approaches are an integral part of social action plans to combat the underlying causes of diarrheal disease. The painful irony is that 4,000 children die every day from a disease which is entirely curable. Initiatives to promote breastfeeding practices, nutrition education, clean water practices, oral rehydration therapies (, and zinc supplementation ( have been recognized and put into policy in places like India where diarrheal disease is a common and stigmatized affliction of the poor. This “Call to Action on Diarrheal Disease” details the necessary initiatives to change the structural issues that lead to diarrheal disease.

“Diarrhea disease remains one of the leading causes of child deaths worldwide”


Samantha Nelson

One thought on “Medical Ethics & Treatment of Diarrheal Disease

  1. Samantha, the chart you presented shows very clearly the disparity in health between the rich and the poor. Diarrheal Disease, while it is a disease that babies in Western countries get, it is very rare for them to die from it. Because of education and access to medicine, diarrheal disease is an extremely communicable disease. Babies in America simply do not die from the disease- at least not very often. However in countries where the infrastrcucture is poor and access to clean water is a daily struggle- diarrheal disease is a major problem. The fact that diarrheal disease is the second largest killer of babies demonstrates the health disparity.

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