Privilege vs. Health


Structural Violence is the ways in which social structures harm or disadvantage individuals. These issues are not easily recognized when referring to illness and disease. This is mainly due to the knowledge that those in power usually tend to hide. As we understand there is a difference in health care systems across the world. Developed nations such as the United States tend to have a better care system than less developed countries much like those on Africa. Therefore as a result have less breakouts and spreads of infectious diseases. In many other areas this is not necessarily true as I mentioned briefly the countries in Africa. Ebola outbreak is one of the many examples of the health care system difference in terms of infectious disease outbreaks. So it seems the less money the less chance for health or even life. As noted in from lecture health care can be more political and economic than it should be. This in itself seems it should be a crime to having the underprivileged suffer, which again can describe some structural violence. As we have learned from Paul Farmer social arrangements that put individuals and populations in harm’s way are described as social because their power in economics and or political.

I think that to fight other infectious diseases much like Ebola our world should invest in ways to equally distribute funding for health care. If there is better funding it will be easier for doctors to prevent and stop the spread of these disease. Otherwise these health professionals have to work hard with the limited resources they do have. With better health care that leads to better living environments or measures to prevent becoming ill. Upon reading the NCBI Bookshelf 17.6 million people in low and middle income countries die from communicable diseases. But the numbers are much lower for those in developed countries. From this reading many of these deaths are preventable if given the proper resources most are which cost. Cost effectiveness highlights the one of many burdens that we need to improve for better health care results in under develop countries and more than double the number of lives saved.

I think to change the deaths of communicable diseases under developed countries we must start with allocating funding properly to both developed and under developed nations. The structural violence can be controlled if those in higher power use the politics and economics to do so.


Paul Farmer, Partner to the Poor,


The Healthcare Imperative

Institute of Medicine (US) Roundtable on Evidence-Based Medicine –


3 thoughts on “Privilege vs. Health

  1. Robyn,
    Until reading your post I believed there was no solution to the socioeconomic problems around the world in regards to medical care. However, you made me see the issue in a new light. I agree that we would need to have some way to balance funds for treatment between rich and poor countries. Previously I felt that there was no way to do this without a common government- which would most likely include war as a stepping stone to peace. However, I now think it may be achievable by some sort of agreement, as you allude to in your concluding paragraph. Perhaps we don’t need a common government, but rather we need the people with the most power in advanced countries to “take one for the team” and create some arrangement that provides more resources to a developing country’s medical treatment, research, development, etc. without devastating the more developed countries in a way that is not able to be fixed.
    Now, this is still just a lofty goal that may never be a reality. However, it is for now still a possibility, and if more people realized it then maybe years from now, when us college students have graduated and are running the world, we will be compassionate enough to attempt some such treaty with peaceful nations- in order to make this lofty goal a reality.

    • Robyn,
      I like how you commented on the knowledge being hidden from us. It’s truly sad that we have people in power who would rather gain a profit than help the majority of people. The world we live in is so obsessed with money that when the wrong people get to pull the strings, we often see corruption at the expense of the already possible victims.
      I found Paul Farmer’s definition of structural violence fascinating. It is true that these actions take place in our social and cultural world and it has come just by humans evolving/existing together. Hopefully as we evolve, structural violence can become a term of the past.
      Totally agree with your idea to allocate money to developing nations too. The US can spend billions and billions on their military but aren’t active enough in aiding the needy. We have drugs that would help so many, that are sold at too high of a price for any of these sick people to buy. Due to this, many suffer and often even die. No profit on any drug is worth even one life. We must strive for a world where structural violence does not exist and I believe we are headed in the right direction. One day I hope medicine is easily accessible for someone worth millions of dollars as it is for the poor man without a cent to his name.

  2. Hello Robyn, really enjoyed reading your post! I really loved how you redefined Structural Violence. I agree that underdeveloped countries may not have a better health care system but what is really weird to me is that not all of Africa is underdeveloped. Some underdeveloped countries, such as Africa, have developed areas where everything is roses and sunshine. But the countries do not know how to take care of this underdeveloped areas and that is where the problem lies. In America, it is much easier for less developed areas to obtain medical care that it is for underdeveloped areas in Africa. It is true what you said about funding. If funding is distributed more evenly among different areas, then this will result in more evenly distributed health care. I feel that health care is a human right. It is not right how people in need of health care do not have it or have limited resources. I also liked how you stated that the less money you have the less likely you are to receive care. Disease affects mostly everyone the same. If this is true then I feel that the health care system should treat everyone exactly the same.

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