Global Health Equity and the Need for Interdisciplinary Medical Ethics Education: Do we Really Mean Everyone?

By Erin Vroom.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights document became the ethical standard for healthcare by policy makers and medical professionals worldwide. However today, instead of equal healthcare ideals, structural violence determines who falls ill and who has access to care. An exhaustive study on medical ethics education shows that the medical community largely ignores this broader context of social injustice. The comparison between the U.S. and Mozambique and several economic statistics portray the unequal access to basic health care brought about by capitalism. A case study on a woman from Haiti represents the need to treat not only the disease but to address the economic, political, cultural, and social structures that silently damage so many. The fostering of solidarity between medical professionals and the suffering class will play a crucial part with any positive change in health indicators worldwide. A look at the human nature theories of Fukuyama and Singer reveal both hope and hindrance to this solidarity development. If equal access to care is considered to be ethical, what levels of quality can medical ethics aspire if it ignores the population of poor? The first step towards reducing inequality will start in the university classroom and continuing education context, with a more interdisciplinary approach to medical ethics education. A new level of cooperation and collaboration between disciplines ranging from social anthropology to molecular epidemiology should be used to develop a new body of knowledge that will increase awareness of structure violence and promote volunteerism. Incredible hope lies in the potential of medical community to broaden their definition of neighbor. In conclusion, findings prove that this redefinition is not only possible but ultimately beneficial for all who are involved.

Keywords: Medical Ethics, Health Equity, Volunteerism, Global Care, Education, Structural Violence, Medical School, Medical Community, Health Care, Continuing Education

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.137-146. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 744.989KB).

Erin Vroom

Student, California Polytechnic State University, San Jose, CA, USA

I am an aspiring photojournalist and Kinesiology graduate from California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo California. I lived in India for almost 2 months in 2010, and my eyes were opened to injustices in global health. I’m passionate about utilizing other peoples various passions to help others. Visit to see photography or more writings.