NACCHO Root of Health Inequity Reflection Paper
NACCHO Root of Health Inequity Reflection Paper
Write a reflection of how your learning experience of the “NACCHO Root of Health Inequity”, affects your understanding of the course objectives and its usefulness in preparing your Group Communication and Advocacy Plan.
This assignment should be based on UNIT 5 Only of the Course. Unit Title: Social Justice. It explores the principles of social justice and ways to influence the institutions and agencies that generate health Inequities. (2 pages). No references. Just NACCHO. (https://members.rootsofhealthinequity.
Please refer to the document Below. Unit 5: Social Justice | Roots of Health Inequity
Purpose and Overview
This unit features an introductory consideration of social justice as a foundation for public health practice and its implications for practice to eliminate health inequity.
GOALS FOR THIS UNIT
You will explore the basic principles of social justice, learn why they are central to public health. One goal of social justice is to end processes that systematically marginalize and exploit people and condemn them to subordinate positions. Beyond reforming institutions, modern conceptions of social justice require evaluating the operation of society’s institutions at their core rather that at the margins.
After taking this course, you will be able to:
● List four principles of social justice.
● Identify specific ways in which social justice principles might be applied to elements of everyday practice.
● Recognize the difference between social justice and other approaches to public health practice.
● Examine the underlying assumptions, features, and values of a social justice approach to public health practice and contemplate how it relates to everyday work.
This course was built for you to become a co-creator of knowledge. Groups should initiate discussions; you should respond to others in your Learning Group, and hopefully, continue to discuss and explore these ideas offline.
Social Justice and Public Health
Social justice is what we owe people as human beings. Its principles enable us not only to reform society’s institutions, but to imagine a different kind of society altogether.
Throughout our history people have struggled to exist, overcome oppression, and live to express their full potential. The end of child labor, the introduction of housing codes, the right of women to vote, the Civil Rights movement, the eight-hour work day, and the rights of lesbians and gays have all been examples of struggles for social justice.
Social justice is linked to public health practice in three interrelated ways:
● Health is constructed through the social and political conditions in which people live and work, and is therefore necessarily influenced by the just or unjust power arrangements that determine those conditions. This suggests that public health must look to the inner workings of institutions such as schools, corporations, churches, and government.
● Health is an asset and a value, enabling people to live fully and have a safe environment in which to learn, among many other aspects of well-being.
● Health is a public concern associated with decisions that a society makes for the collective good.
The social injustices of class oppression, racism, and gender inequity, deeply rooted in our history, have created conditions and environments that expose some populations to a disproportionate risk of disease, illness, and death. Investigating those injustices may help to identify what generates health inequity in the first place.
IDEAS EXPLORED IN THIS SECTION
Social justice is about well-being, sustaining a flourishing human existence, meeting fundamental human needs, and minimizing oppression. Based on a collective idea of justice emphasizing cooperative decision-making rather than individual justice, four principles define its core elements, as described in this unit.
Oppression: Components of Social Injustice
The components of oppression, discussed below in “The Five Faces of Oppression,” constitute the central features of social injustice. They are critical to recognizing the relation of power to social injustice and the specific manifestations of injustice.
Principles of Social Justice
A lot is at stake in the framework that guides public health. An exploration of social justice principles is critical because the values that define public health will influence priorities, such as whom public health serves, and the scope of what is accepted as legitimate practice.
Although many interpretations of the meaning of social justice have been offered, a common theme is an emphasis on dimensions of justice, the systematic character of injustice, its cumulative effects, and its concern with issues of human health and well-being, rather than individual or legal rights.
“Social justice is a matter of life and death. It affects the way people live, their consequent chance of illness, and their risk of premature death” (WHO, 2008). These are the first words from the World Health Organization’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health Final Report. Learn More »
The Five Faces of Oppression
Feminist philosopher Iris Marion Young identified “a family of concepts or conditions of groups organized into five categories” that give meaning to forms of oppression.
These conditions of oppression have specific meaning and suggest the pervasive nature of social injustice as it exists in all our institutions. They represent active efforts to control particular populations as well as withhold public resources or otherwise socially exclude them. The distinctions are important, as Young notes, as a method to “compare systematic oppressions without…claiming that one is more fundamental than any other.” For public health, these distinctions can clarify strategies. (See I. M. Young, Justice and the Politics of Difference, in Related Resources, 1990: 40.)
Tackling Causes of Social Injustice
A social justice interpretation of practice cannot be expressed as a formula. It concerns a way of working that pays attention, acts at all levels, identifies the source or cause of injustice, and addresses power imbalances.
The idea is to shift that balance and to alter the decision processes that affect health. It might also focus directly on questioning the power arrangements that produce social and economic inequality. Examples include advancing access to public resources where social and economic inequality is greatest, such as support for paid sick days and a living wage.
Comparing the Characteristics of a Remedial vs. a Social Justice Approach to Health
A social justice approach to public health requires a fundamental shift in focus from the more conventional approaches, which is to respond to health problems and perform certain regulatory functions. Through the activities in this unit, we will explore what that shift in focus might look like.
Remediation vs. Social Justice
The demands of everyday work in public health require immediate responses grounded in well-developed protocol. Tackling health inequity requires attention to long-term planning and to an idea of prevention that reaches toward social change.
The activity below shows some differences between a remedial approach (one that focuses on repairing or fixing a problem) and a social justice approach (one that emphasizes the underlying injustice(s) as a cause). It is not meant to suggest that one approach is right or wrong. Rather, it indicates that acting on the root causes of health inequity requires a strategic plan of action that tackles the accumulation of conditions over time and the decisions that generate disproportionate disadvantage to some groups.
ConsideringYour Approach to Social Justice
On one hand, social justice as public health practice must be recognized as a holistic conception.
Yet because we cannot restructure society to eliminate imbalances of power relevant to our concerns, it is important to consider specific opportunities to support social change within the segments of practice that we can control, such as monitoring and surveillance, building alliances, diagnosing conditions, etc.
A County Ordinance for Social Justice
As unlikely as it seems, Seattle & King County enacted an ordinance in 2010 supporting the application of principles of social justice to the County Strategic plan. We will explore its features and significance.
Exploring a Conceptual Framework for Reducing Health Inequities
Epidemiologist Nancy Krieger has demonstrated the issues and pitfalls in visualizing conceptual models for exploring health inequities. She contends that although they are important for illuminating the issues, such models and images can also obscure how causes actually work and ways that they need to change “to improve population health and reduce health inequities” (“Ladders, Pyramids and Champagne: The Iconography of Health Inequities.” (2008). Jl Epidemiology Community Health 62, 1098). We present one such model from northern California for examination.
Elements and Characteristics of this Approach
What are the characteristics of a social justice approach to public health practice? How do we identify injustices and the root causes of inequity, and how do we develop effective strategies to tackle them? In this activity you will reflect on some features of your overall approach to public health practice. You will explore how a social justice perspective for eliminating health inequity might inform and influence that practice.
Conclusion: The Last Word
Social justice is about meeting fundamental human needs and minimizing oppression. From a public health perspective, a person’s health is not only a basic need, but also a valuable asset to their quality of life. This unit described how to identify injustices and the root causes of inequity, as well as how to develop effective strategies to tackle them.
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