Solving problems in the field of global health and increasing access to healthcare around the world might not be your passion. But it should be something that you care about: and here is why. Close your eyes and take a step back. Look at the big picture of life. Why are we here? We are never going to know for sure. But whether you believe in divine intervention or think we are a coincidence of matter that got thrown together, you have to admit that our ability to think, philosophize and create is pretty damn amazing.
While we are alive on this Earth, why not make the most out of our short lives? Let’s travel and learn about the world– let’s work together and utilize each other’s strengths to make the world a better place. For me, that means finding solutions to healthcare issues and improving the health of the human race around the globe. For you, it might mean something completely different that utilizes your own personal strengths. But today I want to share some reasons why you, too, should care about global health. From an altruistic philosophy perspective to just plain inherent selfishness, we need to start raising the standards of healthcare worldwide.
Healthcare as a Human Right?
This is as much a political debate as it is a philosophy discussion. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness… those are human rights according to the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Life– sometimes impossible without medical attention and intervention. I feel like the debate (in the US, at least) should be more about how healthcare is attained and less about whether it is a human right or not. It is pretty hard to argue that someone doesn’t have a right to live because they are poor (obviously an extreme example). Whether you believe that healthcare is a human right or not, it is something that everyone needs (some more than others).
From an altruistic perspective, healthcare can be considered a human right. Many would argue that we should be starting with our own country and fixing the healthcare problems there first. I absolutely agree! But why stop there? Everyone has their niche to fill. Some are drawn to fixing problems from the bottom up, starting in their own country. But that doesn’t mean that work in the field of global health should come to a standstill until problems in our own country are fixed. There are people in every corner of the world that are suffering due to a lack of healthcare.
Selfish Reasons to Care About Global Health
If you don’t believe that healthcare is a human right or you don’t think we should be wasting time or resources helping out other countries, at least care about global health from a purely selfish perspective. Populations that are not ‘healthy’ pose a risk to other countries. That doesn’t just mean neighboring countries either. With as much travel and trade that goes on in the world currently, diseases can easily be transmitted across the globe. If we don’t nip those deadly diseases in the bud now… they will spread.
A New Globalized World
EVERYTHING in the world is continuing to become more globalized as technology advances. This includes ease of travel, communication, trade, etc. Healthcare is no exception. Portable ultrasounds allow for imaging in small remote towns. The internet allows imaging to be read by radiologists from all over the world at any hour of the day. Let’s globalize healthcare even further. By constantly tweaking practices and protocols, we can find ways to provide healthcare at cheaper costs.
There are plenty of arguments for and against this whole concept of globalization. I personally don’t think that we should waste time arguing whether it is good or bad. It is happening and it is going to continue to happen. What we can do is analyze the good and the bad that comes from it and use strategies to maximize the good and minimize (or at very least, adapt to) the bad. However, I definitely think that increasing access to healthcare around the world is a positive. The key is finding ways to do it in a sustainable (both for the planet as well as local economies and civilization) way.
Just Straight Politics
First let me preface this political reasoning section with my personal thoughts. I cringe at the concept of ‘if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.’ In fact, one of the things I hate most in life is when people do good deeds to expect something in return. Not only is it a horrible motivation for doing something good… it leads to a life of constantly owing someone something or expecting something from someone. Being in debt (to a person.. or financially…med school) really weighs on you. On the other hand, expecting things from people just leads to disappointment. It is so much more liberating to live a life free of these restrictions. Just do something good because it’s good. That’s it. Of course, owing and expecting are inevitable feelings in life. But I think it’s so incredibly important to constantly reassess one’s motives for doing basically anything in life.
But back to world politics… providing healthcare aid and helping countries improve their healthcare systems strengthens international relations. Beyond that, taking care of your own healthcare system now requires a deeper understanding, communication, and teamwork with healthcare systems around the world. Health policies need to have a global division because people are traveling around the globe and people from around the globe are traveling to the US. It is naive to think that cutting yourself off from the rest of the world is a good solution. Careful and cautious collaboration will allow for more brilliant minds to collaborate to come up with better solutions together.
Life is just not fair. Some people are lucky and have been placed into a world where they can get healthcare. Some people work hard and change their situations to ensure that their families have better lives. Others have just been born into situations that they honestly cannot get out of and end up dying of starvation, lack of clean water, or deadly diseases. If we can help make the world more just and fair, let’s do it. Let’s be a part of something bigger than just getting the most out of our single individual measly little life. One life is not more important than another.
I’m not saying that you need to give up everything you have to help others. Because the others that you are helping are working hard to have a life that is easier like yours. Just appreciate what you have and help out when and where you can. I personally believe that this should start with healthcare because it can mean the difference between life and death. Beyond that, economical growth and political freedom can follow, but let’s start by keeping people alive and living healthy lives.
This article is intended to provide a brief overview of many different reasons to care about global health. Each categorical reason appeals to a different motivation. It is to each their own to decide what reason one deems most important. But the bottom line is, from an altruistic philosophy perspective to just plain inherent selfishness, we need to start raising the standards of healthcare worldwide.
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