Essay about Racism and Discrimination in Healthcare

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Healthcare systems are microcosms of the larger society in which they exist. Where there is structural violence or cultural violence in the larger society, so will there be evidence of systematic inequities in the institutions of these societies. The healthcare system in Australia is one example—from a plethora of similarly situated healthcare systems—in which the color of a patient’s skin or the race of his parents may determine the quality of medical received. Life expectancy and infant mortality rates are vastly different for non-Aboriginal, Aboriginal, and Torres Strait Islanders residing in Australia. The life expectancy of Aboriginal men is 21 years shorter than for non-Aboriginal men in Australia. For women, the difference is…show more content…
The organizational structures of political and economic systems cause and sustain the sort of hierarchical relations that enable dramatic differences between and across sectors of societies. Within these hierarchies, the people at the top have privilege, wealth, and power, while those at the bottom of the hierarchy are dominated, oppressed, and exploited (Christie, 1997). People are harmed and killed as a result of structural violence but, unlike direct violence, it occurs more slowly. The harm or death of oppressed people may come about because “some people are deprived of food, shelter, healthcare, and other resources” (Christie, 1997). Because structural violence is embedded in a society’s way of being, over the long-term, groups of people may not be able to meet their basic needs to the degree that normal development and growth is impacted. In the 1960s, Johan Galtung posited the construct of violence as a phenomenon generated by the existence of social barriers that deny needs satisfaction in certain sectors of society. Galtung's conceptual framework illustrates the relationship between the structure of society and the inequalities experienced by its citizens. Gilman's seminal definition of structural violence reads, “physical and psychological harm that results from exploitive and unjust social, political, and economic systems” (1983, p. 8).
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