I came across this photo on Facebook today (sourced from Google Images for this post).
As this is my final blog post, I thought it would be relevant to discuss the fact that before this course, I didn’t understand the difference between equality and equity. I thought that they were synonyms of a sort but that is completely incorrect. This picture sums up the difference perfectly: equality is sameness, or everyone having the same thing whereas equity is fairness or people getting what they actually need and is appropriate to their needs.
I think that this differential is incredibly important when understanding differences between groups and how to move forward with health promotion. For instance, many womens rights movements say that they promote equality for women, when what would actually be better is equity. Men and women are not the same and have different needs for health, same as different cultures have different health issues that plague them based on their cultural histories and genetics so to say that health equality or cultural equality is what we want would be incorrect. Because while everyone can have the same of something, it could be completely different from what they need and that doesn’t do anyone any good- not the people that are not being helped and not those who are wasting resources by trying to make everything the same instead of making things fair.
For the first class of Global Health Promotion 3250G, we were asked to draw a representation of what health meant to us. I chose to draw a mind map. Health is in the centre as the main concept and the sub-concepts came afterward. The main sub-concepts to me are mental health, equity, access to care, safety from harm, legalities, the absense of illness, and the ‘holistic’ view. The holistic view and the health as the absence of illness came to me from other classes that I have taken in Health Studies and that is what I have been taught as to what health should be considered to be. I thought of what health/lack of health depends on such as access to care and the social determinant of equity. And how due to equity issues, there is often reduced access to care. I thought that a main tenant of health is mental health as it is hard to maintain physical health if your mental health is suffering and vice versa. Mental health affects many areas of your life. I also thought of it because I personally have recently had some mental health struggles which has made me far more aware of the issues in mental health care and made me want to find out more about mental health care in other countries. My health care law class made me think of health in terms of legalities and how health has become more about the rights of the patient and less about what is in their best interests. It also made me think about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in terms of medical rights and health care ethics. And safety from harm made me think of how health is affected by a person’s experiences and environment. If one lives in a dangerous environment or has experienced many mentally or physically harmful situations, that will change how they live. It could also affect their access to care. They could be experiencing harm due to systemic violence and inequity as well. What came to my mind most with safety from harm was freedom from sexual violence. After I graduate, I hope to become involved in an NGO that works to help rape survivors in countries where sexual violence is unbearably prevalent such as many African nations and India.
This is just a start to my adventures in global health and I cannot wait to see how my perceptions of health change as the semester progresses!