Integrating Human Rights, Equity, and Social Justice in Health Policies in America and Nigeria: Controversies, Problems, and Way Forward

Integrating Human Rights, Equity, and Social Justice in Health Policies in America and Nigeria: Controversies, Problems, and Way Forward

Augustine Nduka Eneanya (University of Lagos, Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6133-0.ch009

Abstract

Persisting absence of human rights, widening inequality, and social justice in healthcare delivery systems within and between countries present significant challenges to the focus and practice of contemporary public health. This chapter compares how cases of human rights, equity, and social justice are integrated in America's and Nigeria's healthcare policies. Qualitative research and case study design were adopted. Data were collected from secondary sources, such as reviewed literature, textbooks, journal articles, government reports, and internet. Content and critical case studies analysis methods were utilized to analyze, explain, and compare America's and Nigeria's health policies. Findings reveal absence of human rights, equity, and social justice among sub-groups in healthcare service delivery in America and Nigeria. The chapter concludes by suggesting that human rights, equity, and social justice should be integrated into health policies of America and Nigeria in order to make access to healthcare service delivery a right for citizens.
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Background

Humans have rights to the resources necessary for health. The public code of ethics affirms by Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family. Health policy-making, therefore, involves complex processes where a mix of experience, politics, human right, finance, values and ethics all interweave. The failure of anyone component can be fatal to any policy.

In United States of America, from the Truman Administration to today, reform for healthcare has been seen as both progress and failure. President Truman recommended to congress a proposal for Universal Health Insurance coverage administered and paid for by National Insurance Board. Unfortunately, the American Medical Association decried it as “socialized medicine” and the Bill failed.

American healthcare policy and programs have witnessed reforms over the years. Prior to the 20th century, the involvement of the federal government in healthcare was limited to care for the military personnel and veterans. At the State level, all states had established some type of departments of public health by 1909. In 1943, the Internal Revenue Service ruled that employees did not have to pay taxes on their employers’ contributions to group health benefits. This ruling made offering health benefits to recruit employee, an attraction option. The result is that the United States puts tax dollars that would have been collected by the government into employer – based health insurance.

The Kennedy administration pursued a more modest form of healthcare coverage than that of Truman. Kennedy Administration supported the King-Anderson bill, coverage would be limited to those 65 years of age and older benefits package. Kennedy in addition, created more avenues to develop the foundation of what would ultimately become Medicare. Unfortunately, Kennedy’s healthcare plan was denied by congress.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Human Rights: The right to health includes access to timely, acceptable, and affordable healthcare of appropriate quality. So, there has been increasing recognition of the value of human rights approach to the understanding and practice of public health issues over the past decade.

Health System: Health system is conceptualized as consisting of all organizations, people, and actions whose primary intent is to promote, restore, or maintain health. This includes efforts to influence determinants of health as well as more direct health-improving activities including safety legislation.

Health Policy: Health policy broadly refers to guidelines to government actions (national, state, and local government) to advance public health. It is not a single action but requires a range of legislative and regulatory efforts ranging from organization, financing, and delivering of healthcare services both physical and mental health.

Equity: The concept of equity can be understood in terms of providing what is fair and just in order for citizens to overcome discrimination.

Social Justice: Social justice is conceptualized as it relates to health-related issues. It embodies the vision of a society that is equal and in which all members are physically and psychological safe. It demands that all people have a right to human dignity with their basic needs met in healthcare equitably.

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