This implies that the health care system must function effectively so as to provide all categories of citizens with accessible, quality health care services. The primary goal of such a system, then, is to improve the overall health of the nation without dividing society into separate cohorts, clusters, or groups. Although, in reality, such a division is necessary — for the reason that individual, unique pathological conditions are characteristic of different categories of the population — it should not go beyond professional ethics. Ikemoto (2003) discussed the problems of racial segregation from the perspective of the national health care system in her article. Using clinical facilities as an independent variable, she traced their relationship to the availability of medicine for the accessibility of health care services to ethnic minorities and concluded that the current system is incompetent.
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Two of the theses described by the authors in the paper became most appealing. First of all, it was the idea that the health care system is not a source of racial discrimination against patients but rather reflects a multifaceted corollary of the nation’s cultural code.
In fact, it is easy to accuse nurses, doctors, and clinic management of unequal access to services for white and black patients. While such accusations occur, the unfair distribution is not so much the fault of a particular doctor or clinic as it is the responsibility of the nation’s culture. If black people are traditionally less affluent and tend to live collectively in segregated areas of the city with low transportation accessibility — again, such outcomes have socio-historical reasons — it is not surprising that they have lower levels of medical care. A second important thesis is the recognition of the need to care for linguistic barriers between the patient and the health care provider.
Cultural differentiation is most pronounced across dialects and languages, and therefore providing linguistic care, as Ikemoto (2003) wrote, is critical to the health care system. The development of this issue further leads to the fact that not only languages but also the terminologies used may differ. Often physicians tend to refer to clinical phenomena and processes in a professional language that the client does not understand. As a consequence of this misunderstanding, a doctor-patient gap arises and grows, leading to low patient involvement in health issues.
The problems of racial segregation are not just theoretical, as I have encountered them. When a doctor or nurse cannot find common ground with ethnically diverse patients, or when medical personnel ignores a Muslim woman’s requests to change her attending physician to a woman, to me, it becomes a consequence of deep racial conflict. I would also agree with Ikemoto that any cultural awareness initiatives will never solve discrimination since the core of the conflict is not so much a lack of knowledge as an unwillingness to recognize differences. The material I have read thus fully supports my views.
Remarkably, Ikemoto was able to bring me new knowledge. Thus, the problem of racism and medicine is multifaceted and complicated, so I had some ideas about connections and causes but could not formalize them. Before, I clearly understood and saw that medical systems were imperfect and minorities, whether from other ethnic communities, refugees, or migrants, were not adequately cared for. The author of the article consistently and accurately described various aspects of this conflict and offered recommendations for improving the current agenda. Consequently, this structured my understanding and helped me create connections between variables — race, religion, and access to medicine. Thus, I can confidently say that this article was helpful material for me, from which I benefited academically from reading.
Ikemoto, L. C. (2003). Racial disparities in health care and cultural competency. Louis ULJ, 48, 75-130.
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