Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Health Care Inequality
“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
What We Think Dr. King Would Say to Fight Health Care Inequality
Even with improvements in the general health of the U.S. population over the past 50 years, racial and ethnic minorities have failed to achieve equal health care. Consider the fact that African Americans still have higher morbidity (illness) and/or mortality (death) rates from key health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease,
hypertension (high blood pressure), cancer, stroke, and HIV/AIDS than any other racial or ethnic group in the U.S. Hispanics also have higher rates than the U.S. population as a whole.
Reasons for well-documented racial and ethnic health disparities include, for many but not all of those who are affected:
- Decreased health knowledge;
- Lower priority given to preventive health through risk reduction, often because of competing demands and related stress production;
- Decreased socio-economic status (often poverty), and
- Decreased access to health care, especially high quality health care.
While Dr. King pointed to the “injustice” in health care, we believe that if he were alive today he would encourage people of color to focus not so much on health care as “staying healthy”.In other words, he’d be preaching the benefits of disease prevention and risk reduction through the adoption of healthy lifestyles and good health practices. In this way, Dr. King would argue, the need for high quality medical care would be reduced among some of society’s less health aware andmost vulnerable.
That thinking gets to a principle which we at Health Power fully advocate:
- Prevention is always better than a cure, and
- Early disease detection and control is the next best thing.
That means committing yourself to a plan for physical, mental and spiritual health and wellness that you can really stick to.
We’re delighted to see that a growing number of organizations and individuals honored the spirit and legacy of Dr. King for his birthday last month – through volunteer activities such as preparing, serving and delivering nutritious meals, and conducting health screenings and distributing health information. We hope health related initiatives like these not only become annual hallmarks of Martin Luther King Day nationally, but are also practiced on a smaller scale, with special recognition, throughout the year.
However, even if you don’t get to participate in special health events throughout the year, dedicate yourself to improving your own health and the health of family members and other loved ones. We know from the way Dr. King lived his life that health was extremely important to him – and it should be to all of us, as well.
That’s why Health Power is dedicated to that spirit in our own motto, or tagline:
Knowledge + Action = Power!
Let us hear from you! Norma J. Goodwin, M.D. – firstname.lastname@example.org