4.2 Role of the Health Advocate

Photo of a young child laying on a hospital bed. There is a hand-drawn sketch of the same pose next to the photo.
Drawing and Photo Credit: D. Ponka

As a health advocate, professionals use their expertise and influence to advance the health and well being of individual patients, communities and populations.1,2

Advocate in the Global Health Context

In humanitarian contexts, health advocacy extends beyond the healthcare system and includes improving social determinants of health–the conditions in which people live. Reaching out to vulnerable populations often demands the ability to set personal limits to ensure one’s sustained energy and compassion. Advocates must also develop sharp observational skills.

Advocacy for Older Immigrant Populations

Special advocacy positions are required when working with older immigrant populations. Older immigrants can experience a double jeopardy due to their pre-4-2existing social barriers (language challenges, socioeconomic considerations) + poorer health outcomes with age. As such, migration can be seen as a detriment to healthy ageing and advocacy must be extended to reach this vulnerable populations.

Definitions for Selected Terms:

Health equity 
Health inequity refers to differences in a population brought about by unequal socio-economic conditions
Marginalized populations
A marginalized population is a segment of the population that has been left out or has not had their needs met in comparison to the general population. Examples include those with disabilities, the homeless, and Aboriginal Peoples.
Modern technocratic medical model
The modern technocratic medical model aims to find treatments for symptoms presented by patients. This model focuses on the biology of the disease or condition and tries to identify and treat it.