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Politics and Health

Politics and Health

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VINCENTIANS WILL go to the polls in less than three weeks. Our constitution affords us the opportunity to choose our leaders who we think are best fit to take charge of the country for the next five years. As Vincentians contemplate who they should vote for, policy issues related to the economy, health, security, education etc. will determine their choice of candidate.

Health has always been a key issue in politics. Many political discussions have focused on addressing health issues. Ensuring the health of the population is a priority of any government, because a healthy nation will be a productive nation. Since we are faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, health and politics will surely be on the front burner this November. However, health issues extend beyond COVID-19 and so issues related to access to care, quality of care, and other health related dimensions will be examined.

For example, in the United States there are intense discussions around the Affordable Care Act. In the United Kingdom, the NHS has always been a key election topic due to its enduring popularity with the British public and their concerns over the NHS being able to deliver the quality of care needed by the British public.

Health, like almost all other aspects of human life, is political in numerous ways. Health is political because, like any other resource or commodity under a neo-liberal economic system, some social groups have more of it than others. This is to say that some may have better health outcomes and enjoy better health because of easier access and affordability due to socio-economic status. In this regard, many political discourses take place to see how best health systems can be organized to ensure access to high quality

health by all.

Health is also politically driven because its social determinants are amenable to political interventions and are thereby dependent on political action or more usually, inaction. For example, poverty, education, income, housing are all social determinants of health. If these issues are addressed or are not addressed, they can determine health outcome.

Health is political, because the right to ‘a standard of living adequate for health and well-being’ as expressed by the United Nations Right to Health that states that health is, or should be, an aspect of citizenship and a human right. Therefore, political action will determine where health finds itself in terms of being a human rights issue, a commodity or a luxury item.

Ultimately, health is political because power is exercised over it as part of a wider economic, social and political system. Therefore, it is no surprise that health issues will dominate the political platforms as we get closer to November 5.