The fervent call for the promotion of social justice in healthcare by the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Public Health, Northridge (2014), highlights aspects of social justice as generally entailing protection of rights and health of individuals and groups, especially the disadvantaged. Basically, this implies identification of the most vulnerable populations at the greatest risk of poor health, formulation of best strategies for reducing associated risks and harm as well as ensuring fair distribution of healthcare services and benefits. However, Huddle (2013) asserts that social justice is a civic rather than a professional norm whose enforcement among physicians and other healthcare providers would be fruitless ‘as medical education is powerless to produce this virtue’. Still, the author is wrong as changing times have seen greater focus on ethics in many fields including medicine and that medical education is quite powerful in inculcating a strong social justice orientation, in future healthcare providers, who will spearhead necessary change in health promotion. As such, knowledge on social justice will be used as the foundation and a major element of consideration that will inform the implementation of health promotion practices, processes and programs across healthcare networks.
Furthermore, Gargioni & Raviglione (2009) affirm that social justice and the associated principles can aid in the formulation and implementation of patient-centered healthcare services. The anticipated outcome is the creation of a well-structured, highly developed healthcare system that assures universal healthcare access and integrates clear, defined roles at all levels, starting from the upper levels of government associated with provision of healthcare to the healthcare providers. List (2011) also indicates that social justice supports implementation of health promotion practices by asking ‘physicians to advance professional values by calling for a critique and reversal of systemic factors that create an environment where charity care finds need’. These aspects indicate that support provided by social justice and its principles in the implementation of health promotion practices is funneled through advocacy in all relevant levels of healthcare promotion ranging from the government to the lowly healthcare provider. Passage of health care reforms as reported by Day (2010) as well as legislations like the Affordable Care Act, reflect social justice at work especially since many people will be able to afford healthcare while other programs focus on addressing disparities caused by economic barriers to overall care provision, among others.
- Day, L. (2010). Health care reform, health, and social justice. American Journal of Critical Care, 19(5), 459-461. doi: 10.4037/ajcc2010742
- Gargioni, G. & Raviglione, M. (2009). The principles of primary health care and social justice. Journal of Medicine and the Person, 7(2), 103-105.
- Huddle, T.S. (2013).The limits of social justice as an aspect of medical professionalism. Journal of Medicine & Philosophy, 38(4): 369-387. doi: 10.1093/jmp/jht024
- List, J.M. (2011). Beyond charity-Social justice and health care. Virtual Mentor, 13(8), 565-568.
- Northridge, M.E. (2014). The social justice agenda. American Journal of Public Health, 104(9), 1576-1578. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302127