Should Racism be Dealt with in Health Care Services?

by Cenkoroll on September 10, 2016 - 4:26pm

                When health care is provided, its operators are supposed to maintain an unbiased frame of mind when administering services. However, that is not the case, as noted in Megan-Jane Johnstone and Olga Kanitsaki’s article “The Neglect of Racism as an Ethical Issue in Health Care”. In it, they explain that “... people from minority cultural and language backgrounds experience both individual and institutional forms of racism in health care” (Johnstone and Kanitsaki 490). It goes on to say that minorities in countries suffer from lower levels of health care and social services, have an increased likelihood of disease, struggle to access medical attention due to language and cultural barriers, and if they do manage to get their word across, they get a lower level of care than the majority population.

In turn, these minorities are harmed by their lack of treatment and present an attack on the moral of human well-being. As a result of sub-standard health care, they may come out the other side feeling worse off – physically, mentally and/or psychologically – than they did going in, which violates their rights as humans.

                Despite the harm that in can cause, people in the health care department, as a whole, don’t seem to believe there is a problem. Thus, racism in the sector is poorly dealt with. The reasons for this can be summarized as the false belief of health care being objective, the conservative nature of medicine, and the incorrect self-perpetuating beliefs of workers not being discriminatory.

                The part of the group that does see the problem which lies in front of them uses excuses as reasons not to address the problem. One argument is that acknowledging the problem of racism in health care will bring bad publicity to the sector and make minorities even more untrusting. The other claims the problem will become too controversial and cost too much in terms of labour and resources (Johnstone and Kanitsaki 490).

                Finally, the article notes that to be discussed effectively, it must be seen as an ethical issue to allow workers in health services to understand what is being done wrongly. Furthermore, while the issue may strain the sector on a holistic level, it does not warrant a reason to ignore the problem. Unfortunately, that is where the article ends.

                So then, if this issue truly needs to become an ethical one, what are both sides? The right-wing, more conservative, side of the problem would consist of those who work in the health care society. This side believes in the moral of acting according in their own best interest, seen through a lack of action to fight the issue and ignoring it completely in order to prevent losses economic loss. They also have the sense of doing no harm, although, as explained in the article, it is a self-serving fallacy which clouds any bias that the health care professionals do have towards others. They would be proponents of order, peace, tradition and wealth which again stem from lack of action or acknowledgement.

                On the other end of the spectrum could be the minorities who are being unfairly treated. Morals that come to mind are acting towards the greater good and equally considering everyone’s interests. The minorities would, and should, believe that health care services should be given out equally regardless of race, especially since the world has become so multi-cultural and everyone deserves the same chance at life. This thinking would show values of collective responsibility, comfort as well as equality of conditions and opportunity to name a few.

                I believe that everyone should get an equal chance, as do both sides of this conflict. The value of equality for people’s health is a standard that should always be prioritized. The fact that the health department thinks so further proves that point. However, the problem with them is that they are blinded by their false assumption of being impartial due to the oath they swore to. Moreover, their idea of considering everyone’s interest also makes sense if they are to be treated as equals. It is further compounded by the idea that health care workers in one region would become the minority in another in the case of travel or work abroad.

                Some solutions which Johnstone and Kanitsaki do bring up are to stand up to those who are racially discriminatory. They suggest that the issue must be addressed once more. While the controversy and tension it brings is apparent, it will force professionals in the sector to reflect on why such an issue is being confronted and might change their ways. For those who are more resistant, the installment of “... legal sanction and professional censure such as professional deregistration,” could be implied (Johnstone and Kanitsaki 494). Regrettably, more is needed than a few people’s words to incite action, and without the perpetrator plead guilty to their actions, nothing can be done.


Work Cited:


Johnstone, Megan-Jane, and Olga Kanitsaki. “The Neglect of Racism as an Ethical Issue in Health Care.” Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, no. 12.4, Aug. 2010, pp. 489-95.