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Health Issues: A National and Global Perspective

Health Issues

Healthcare is an integral part of the global wellbeing equation. Unfortunately, the international health care system is ailing, and one of the severely hit countries is the United States. This paper explores the factors hindering effective healthcare locally and globally through lenses of three issues: racism in public health, high healthcare costs, and the anti-vaccine movement. The emergence of Covid-19 has revealed that racism and the high cost of care persist in the US as top health issues, whereas the anti-vaccine movement frustrates global efforts to defeat the pandemic.

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Racism in Public Health

American health institution’s complicity in the institutionalization of racism has grown conspicuous due to two trends. One factor is the recent protests over widespread police brutality that claims many African American’s lives, often under the guise of being stern on drugs. A second factor has been blacks’ disproportionate death toll and poor healthcare access amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Reporting for the Washington Post, Russell (2020) observes that coronavirus patients admitted to the hospital are predominantly whites, yet the virus kills 92.4 per 100,000 black people compared to 45.2 per 100,000 whites. These statistics fit into a pattern that has persistently plagued African Americans since the dawn of slavery.

The fundamental approaches and ways of practicing medicine in the country confirm a severe racial crack. The novel coronavirus outbreak has proven that the modern health care system is primarily designed to serve the whites. For example, despite African Americans recording the highest number of infections and casualties due to the epidemic, the dermatologic symptoms of COVID-19 are depicted in exclusive white and pink toe images. The disparity is so glaring that it can quickly be confirmed through a cursory google search of the ‘covid toes.’ Moreover, myths such as blacks are relatively insensitive to pain than whites still pervade medical practice, leading to inadequate treatment.,Many African Americans plagued by indigence and general skepticism about the healthcare system often avoid or delay treatment. These examples reiterate that the foundation of medicine requires decolonizing for it to serve African Americans adequately – particularly black women.

High Health Care Cost

Expensive healthcare is yet another issue in the United States. People tend to forgo goods and services they cannot afford regardless of the expected utility, and medical care is no different. An increasing number of Americans no longer view a trip to the doctor as a necessity but a mere factor of their financial position. According to AccessOne (2020) survey, two-thirds of Americans doubt their ability to afford medical expenses in 2021. The relentless Covid-19 pandemic has rendered millions of Americans jobless, effectively plunging them into poverty and pushing their medical needs to the periphery. For the racial minority groups that have historically been decanted to the bottom of the socioeconomic pit, things remain the same, if not worse than the pre-pestilence period.

The country’s per capita spending on healthcare is one of the highest among its industrialized counterparts. According to the University of Minnesota (2016), Americans spend 50 percent more on health care than Norwegians and Swiss, and twice as much as the French. However, the US extravagance remains unjustified due to its record of unmatched suicide and lowest life expectancy rates. The University of Minnesota (2016) observes that America lags behind its peer nations – including those spending far less on the sector – in the key indicators, and they identify two factors contributing to this trend. The first culprit is the huge administrative costs. The system overly relies on private insurance, leading to an explosion of billing and record-keeping tasks performed primarily by human labor. Another contributor is the fee-for-service model, which motivates physicians to perform more than necessary procedures.

Anti-vaccine Movement

Covid-19 has exacerbated some severe global health issues that were previously overlooked. One such threat is the rise of the anti-vaccine movement. Although individuals averse to vaccines have practically existed since the age of the first vaccine, their presence and impact have never excited the World Health Organization to the extent of declaring the anti-vaccine movement one of the ten most significant risks to global health.

The modern anti-vaccine movement thrives on misinformation and a powerful political and technological muscle to wage war against science, threatening to undo the gains of decades of research and triumph over diseases. Burki (2020) reveals that the group has over 40 million subscribers on Facebook and YouTube alone. Moreover, it has a strong political arm, equipped with political action committees (PACs) to help with the lobbying process. It also employs “deliberate predation” to target minority groups to recruit adherents and flood them with misinformation (Hotez, 2020). The consequences of these concerted efforts include a resurgence of diseases such as measles in countries where they had been eradicated and an increased reluctance to accept Covid-19 vaccines.

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In conclusion, Racism and costly medical services remain one of the severest health issues in the US, whereas the influential power of the anti-vaccine movement wreaks havoc on global health care efforts. Many Americans, especially African Americans, record the worst health outcomes due to systemized prejudice and a history of poverty. Their skepticism, and those of many people worldwide who have not experienced quality care due to many underlying factors, could be providing a rich ground for anti-vaccine rhetoric and misinformation to thrive.


AccessOne. (2020). Americans fear they are Unble to afford medical expenses in 2021. Patient Financing Programs for Medical Expenses. Web.

Burki, T. (2020). The online anti-vaccine movement in the age of COVID-19. The Lancet Digital Health, 2(10), e504-e505. Web.

Hotez, P. J. (2021). Preventing the Next Pandemic: Vaccine Diplomacy in a Time of Anti-science. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Russell, T. (2020). Racism in care leads to health disparities, doctors and other experts say as they push for change. The Washington Post. Web.

University of Minnesota. (2016). Problems of Health Care in the United States. In Social problems: Continuity and change. Web.

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