Global health inequalities and the need for solidarity: a view from the Global South

Developing World Bioethics 18 (3):241-249 (2017)
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Abstract

Although the world has experienced remarkable progress in health care since the last half of the 20th century, global health inequalities still persist. In some poor countries life expectancy is between 37-40 years lower than in rich countries; furthermore, maternal and infant mortality is high and there is lack of access to basic preventive and life-saving medicines, as well a high prevalence of neglected diseases, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Moreover, globalization has made the world more connected than before such that health challenges today are no longer limited within national or regional boundaries, making all persons equally vulnerable. Because of this, diseases in the most affluent countries are closely connected with diseases in the poorest countries. In this paper, we argue that, because of global health inequalities, in a situation of equal vulnerability, there is need for global solidarity not only as a means of reducing health inequalities, but also as a way of putting up a united force against global health challenges. We argue for an African approach to solidarity in which the humanity of a person is not determined by his/her being human or rational capacity, but by his/her capacity to live a virtuous life. According to this view of solidarity, because no one is self-sufficient, no individual can survive alone. If we are to collectively flourish in a world where no individual, nation or region has all the health resources or protection needed for survival, we must engage in solidarity where we remain compassionate and available to one another at all times.

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