Health care & racism

Thu Jun 4 06:38:00 EST 1992

Robert Bradbury says much that "fair minded" people can agree with about
paying for health care.

The fair minded peole are mostly members of relatively wealthy nations.

Some diseases affect particular ethnic groups disproportionately, either 
through genetic predisposition or poverty. In many countries a big killer is
malaria, a disease which richer nations have largely ignored. In the richer 
nations heart disease and stress-related illnesses still kill a greater
proportion of people in lower income groups. 

The danger lies in the "fair minded" approach becoming a blinkered 
justification for discrimination, racism and all it entails. It was used
fifty years ago in Western Europe in an attempt to eliminate ethnic groups.
The political philosophy behind it still finds favour in "democracies".

If we really are to grasp the nettle of cost-benefit in health care, we can't 
ignore the social implications. Who decides which diseases will be paid for
whatever the cost. Who decides what we don't treat? These are ultimately
political decisions.

The political extremists are always eager for a "scientific" justification
for their views.

Cary O'Donnell

More information about the Ageing mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net