Public Health as a Social Justice
Public health is a social justice whose provision should be fairly and equitably distributed to all citizens irrespective of social status. However, this is not the case in the USA where market-justice policies are compromised by the society. According to market-justice norms, people are entitled only to treatment based on their fair efforts in life i.e. values such as status, income and happiness are acquired from ones’ abilities or individual efforts. There is minimal collective obligation such that the powerful enjoys the best treatment because they can afford while the minority gets incentives depending on the much they can afford. This negatively affects public health as poor and jobless people are unable to access quality healthcare and they are always prone to hazards.
Americans don’t recognize a general obligation to health provision. This means that an individual is always alone when it comes to protection against disease or death. A general obligation would require all citizens to be contributing a certain percentage of their income towards provision of medical care. This would result to high earning individuals contributing large amount of their earnings to the common goal of health distribution, a move that is likely to come under high criticism from employees. In addition, most people don’t view health hazards as a priority until when one is affected. Under market-justice, individuals and groups only exercise minimal obligations towards protecting the common good. This fails to adequately protect the safety of products we consume, the environment, workplaces, and provision of effective healthcare.
What determines a population’s health is the context of their lives. A person’s characteristics and behavior, physical environment, social and economic environment are the main determinants of one’s health. High social status is linked to good health and the greater the gap between high income earners and low earners, the greater the disparities in health. Social justice provides an end to the negative effects of market-justice. All persons are entitled to quality health protection, fair treatment and equitable distribution of resources. The implication of social justice will benefit all the citizens of USA in a couple of ways: one, there will be a fair-sharing of burdens such that those who cause harm in the production or provision of services will bear the costs of reducing injuries that may arise from their actions. An example is where automotive, tobacco and coal industries bear the costs of implementing policies aimed at controlling the level of air pollution.
Another benefit would be the control of health hazards. This will involve looking into the origin of these hazards, educating the public on prevention of these perils and then finding their amicable solutions. The prevention of hazards will involve creating rules to minimize the exposure of people to the identified hazards while at the same time educating the general public on mitigation measures to employ in case of exposure to the hazards. Thirdly, collective action by the government or other institutions will facilitate a planned and organized action that will be obeyed by all stakeholders i.e. the industries and individuals. Implementation of social justice will go a long way in providing equal distribution of vital health services to all American.
The above social health policies will minimize the levels of injuries and deaths resulting from world hazards. Their effectiveness can only be realized if all Americans take individual responsibility to keep their surrounding environment clean and safe for other users. Also, individuals should be careful with activities they involve themselves into as they may expose them to health risks. Examples are smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol and drug use. On the other hand industries should do their best to curb exposure of their employees and the general public to hazards arising from their operations. A collective responsibility of all the people including the government and the medical care department is important for the realization of quality public health for all American people. Tough actions should be taken against those who default the rules put in place to facilitate a long lasting solution to public health.