Healthcare is a Human Right
This post is written by Mbettie Worrell, BA, BSN, RN, a graduate
student in the Adult/Gerontology Nurse Practitioner program at the University
of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in Philadelphia.
Consider these scenarios:
A six-year-old girl is found dying from a disease that has had a vaccine
available for decades.
A young woman lay dying in childbirth while her husband watches
helplessly because they have no access to healthcare.
A 48-year-old mother who needs a kidney transplant, but she has no
insurance and thus not “eligible” for the transplant list.
These are a few health struggles faced by people around the world,
including the U.S., due to lack of access to healthcare.
The Affordable Care Act promises to insure an additional 36 million
people, and escalated this debate over access to healthcare, health disparities,
and citizens’ rights.
Proponents and opponents of this issue base their
arguments in economics, ethics, medicine and law.
Proponents believe that if all Americans had access to healthcare it would
decrease spending because individuals would seek preventative care instead of
waiting to become seriously ill. Proponents also argue that as citizens of the
richest democracy in the world we should have a right to affordable healthcare no
matter who you are.
Opponents, meanwhile, now view the term “entitled” with contempt and
define it as a reward for the undeserving. They argue increasing tax revenue on
some citizens to help provide healthcare to others is socialism. Others say healthcare
providers will be overstretched due to the high demand of individuals seeking
care and this could lead to burn outs or decreased quality of care rendered,
primarily through delays in appointments, surgeries, etc.
Growing up in a third world country, I have witnessed firsthand the consequences
of inaccessibility to healthcare.
I believe good health and access to care is a human right, no matter which
part of the world one may live.
All humans were created equal, though history and other social and
economic issues like wars, social determinants, and poor economies have created
a noticeable difference between individuals and among nations.
humans are entitled to the same rights under similar circumstances.
I do not necessarily believe this right means being in the best health
state. However, governments should be able to provide those conditions
necessary to facilitate the needs of its constituents when it comes to
The ability of a government to help its citizens gain access to
healthcare should not be viewed as “charity” or “socialism.”
As World Health Organization Director-General, Margaret Chan, states:
“The world needs a global health guardian, a custodian of values, a
protector and defender of health, including the right to health.”
Can we each be that person?