Monday, March 1, 2010

Blog 1: Health and Human Rights

When feeling slightly under the weather, middle-class Americans can easily go to the pharmacy and choose from an assortment of medicines and legal drugs. The process sounds extremely easy and accessible. But this does not hold true for the rest of the world, and even among the poor within America. Availability to drugs internationally is quite limited, and the inequalities that are intertwined with the constricted access to medical resources are hindering countless lives. Social class plays one of the biggest roles in dividing health privileges and rights.

Governments have made and are making laws that will seclude the poor to unfortunate health and the wealthy to excellent health care. Not only are the poor already typically in bad situations, but are being stigmatized for their social placement and cut off from the abundance of medical resources that should be available to everyone. Being poor is not solely defined by one’s financial state, but poor may mean a person living in unhealthy conditions through their household, their culture, or even incarceration that is limiting health access and rights for medical attention.

For example, the reading that discusses the Russian prisoners who are being untreated for tuberculosis due to the cost-efficiency debates shows the importance of money over a human body. Living in the underprivileged condition of an over-populated prison with no precautions or treatments towards the health of the prisoners is showing the lack of equality towards medical treatment. Due to the concerns towards cost-efficiency for treating the Russian prisoners have put their rights on hold for inhumane reasons. The prisoners are being pushed aside by the over-ruling social class of the privileged and treated poorly for the state they are currently in; being jail-junkies.

Governments and the groups that are making patents on medication and health care laws are overly concerned about money. This raises the question of health being a business instead of a right, so in fact a person’s life will be determined on the amount of money they have to spend on treatment. Again, social class is placing the unfortunate into an even more devastating position of unfair treatment due to companies’ greed and obsession over their profits. With educated and well-researched groups that can fight these monopolies, rules can be changed to make health care accessible to all areas of societies within international cultures and increase efforts towards prevention of bad health and curing the ill-fated victims of disease. An example of fighting back towards inequalities of health care is shown through the AIDS activists who fought the South African government’s AIDS treatment policies.

Reading and seeing the global inequalities of health rights has helped me look at my own in health with a different perspective. As stated before, I have complete access to any grocery that has a pharmacy and pick up cold/”under the weather” remedies. This makes my health problems seem so minute when thinking about who really needs treatments world-wide. It also makes me grateful for the access I have to medical treatment and health conditions that I have had vaccines for. But it also upsets me to know that health has indeed been turned into a business instead of sincere concern towards human rights.

AIDS is one of the leading causes of death as seen in the movie we watched in class. Every day, thousands of people contract or die from the disease and most cannot be properly treated for it due to lack of funds and conditions of clinics. Yet, companies continue to be greedy with their money and cost-efficient investments with their products. The real concern should be towards the well-being of every individual has a human right. In some of the most extreme cases of painstaking lack of health care, the government should think to themselves, “What if that was my family member and wouldn’t I demand the best health care available?” Everyone that is dieing or infected with disease is someone’s family member, relative, or close friend, so everyone should be given a fair chance to live. Instead, the focus is put towards where the most promising income may be stimulated and not towards the people who truly need immediate care. The scenes from the movie were breath-taking as I sat in my chair and could do nothing for these suffering AIDS victims.

I understand health care changes within the government cannot be done and put into action at a fast rate, but I feel like there is a lack of consideration towards such changes. It shouldn’t have to take an AIDS activist group to convince the South African government to make changes in their treatment access, but should be common sense that infected need treatment, and the dieing prevented. If I worked in an American clinic or hospital where I would witness numerous health-related problems, I know I would want to give those patients equal rights to treatment and life. Also, I would expect as an American to be treated the same way. Therefore, international cultures and governments who are privileged should consider how they personally would want to be treated, and think of how they would feel if they were deprived of equal care. I know it is difficult to transfer these words into actions, but my main concern is for all the governments’ focus to be turned towards humans, not money.


  1. You really are able to show how humanizing this issue, while seemingly simple, could truly be the solution to address this global problem. You say, "Everyone that is dieing or infected with disease is someone’s family member, relative, or close friend." This really drives your point home and demonstrates how important it is to redefine the approach to thinking about health as a human right.

  2. Ummm weird, all I see are a bunch of wingdings??? But it shows up as regular writing in the preview on my blogger! How strange. Well, maybe blogger will fix it by tomorrow. =) Hope you are well!!!