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TAKING A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO ADDRESSING HEALTH DISPARITIES

The Medical Humanities and Health Disparities Institute (MHDI)

 Throughout the history of Western philosophical thought and ideological praxis, the notions of health and what makes a healthy person have largely hinged on social perception (looking  healthy or ill), one's ability to be a good biological citizen (adding to the production and maintenance of society without getting or being sick), and being actually void of physical or mental illness.  What these ideas have often failed to acknowledge, however, is the extent to which institutional inequity, structural violence, and racism have acted upon the bodies (physically, mentally, socially, and molecularly)  of minority peoples--thereby hindering their ability to consistently exist at a state of healthy homeostasis.  

Here, at the Medical Humanities and Health Disparities Institute (MHDI), we understand that one's health and well-being are predicated on his or her ability to afford and have access to healthy food options, live in structurally sound, healthy and safe housing, have equitable access to health care and health care related services, and generally live a life free of institutional inequity, structural violence, and racism.  Thus, our holistic approach is one in which we not only address the physical health and well-being of minority peoples, but also the underlying structures and mechanisms that have normalized the production and maintenance of health inequities and health disparities.  

"In the United States, medical care. . . is ironically a grave area of social injustice.  Deep dysfunctions in the organization, financing, and distribution of medical care have profound consequences for individuals in avoidable suffering and preventable death, cumulatively damaging the health status and health prospects of whole populations and incurring staggering costs to larger society. . . As a consequence, the opportunities to maintain a healthy and longer life and to fulfill one's human potential are skewed in the United States by income, education, primary language, race, ethnicity, and area of residence."

                                                   

--H. Jack Geiger, Social Injustice and Public Health (2006)

The Medical Humanities and Health Disparities Institute

          New Orleans, Louisiana | Houston, Texas

          MedHDInstitute@gmail.com

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