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Case 2 – Earthquake
A devastating earthquake has just struck Haiti. You are compelled to help but your patient waiting times here in Canada are several weeks long and your medical practice colleagues are counting on you.
Question 1: How do you manage your impetus to help in Haiti and balance it with your professional responsibilities at home?
When you return home, you feel strangely disconnected from friends and patients. You notice that complaints of floaters, sore throats and ingrown nails no longer elicit the same level of interest or compassion.
Question 2: How do you maintain balance and ensure advocacy for all, across differing and disparate frames of reference?
Historical Context of Health Advocacy
1946-1948: The United Nation, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization, and the declaration of human rights were all founded after the worst genocide in human history:
“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services”
“If we are the future and we’re dying, there is no future.” Mary Phiri, 2001
Societal Health Inequities
- We know that a society’s health outcomes improve as inequities within that society are eliminated
- Therefore, many health organizations have a stated priority of eliminating health inequities in order to achieve better health outcomes
- Watch this clip for a moving example: http://vimeo.com/11930805
- Acts of justice in extremely unjust settings
Full story: http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/reprint/177/5/449
Case 1 – Voiceless (Revisited)
Duration: 1 minute 19 seconds
Read the video transcript
Hello again. We are now in front of the Dorothy O’Connell Anti-poverty monument right next to City Hall (Ottawa). Dorothy O’Connell was a playwright and social activist and her organization continues to reach out to the poor to this day.
We need to pay attention to our inner health advocates when we feel a patient, such as this refugee woman in the emergency room, is unjustly served or discriminated against, based on language, social background, or even disease. Examples of interventions for health settings to improve access and quality of care include: advocating for interpretive services, engaging patients and underserved communities in developing education and self-care models, and supporting training for healthcare staff to delivery quality care. Despite many practitioners needing to connect with their inner advocates, there is a high risk of burnout when working in resource limited settings. Often there is a need for alternative levels of involvement, individualized paths, and flexibility. One should not underestimate in the most basis of advocate actions, such as writing to one’s elected member of government about an issue that one feels strongly about. One should never underestimate the power a few committed individuals.