Embracing with pride the diversity in healthcare

INGRAINED INTERSECTIONALITY: A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE

Nov 7, 2021
Health Equity Through the Lenses of Intersectionality and Allostatic Load - The  Medical Care Blog

For most of the world, June marks the occasion of pride month. It is society’s attempt at redefining social constructs and unlearning our misconceptions regarding gender. If we think from a more realistic perspective though, one month is hardly enough time to change the mindset of people, that persists.. Moreover, most of us have been oblivious to the influence of intersectionality by our privilege. Therefore, awareness is the key to tackling intersectionality.

By definition, intersectionality is the interconnected nature of social compartmentalisations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage; a theoretical approach based on such a premise. The concept arises from pre-defined socio-cultural norms and notions of social standing, This, in turn, leads to difference in terms of accessibility and affordability for resources. Healthcare is no exception to this. Intersectionality is one of the major hindrances to ensuring the principle of social justice, which focuses on both equal and equitable access to resources related to healthcare. For future healthcare professionals, this forms an important barrier in increasing the reach of healthcare.

I have to be honest, here though. I did not realise how big of a problem intersectionality was till I attended a workshop recently. One of the icebreaker sessions for the workshop required us to put ourselves in the shoes of various sections of the community, precisely considering how our access to healthcare would differ if we belonged to a certain race or the LGBTQIA+ community.

As a future healthcare professional, this served as an eye-opener for me. It made me realise how most healthcare-related stigmas were rooted into a singular  concept. That of intersectionality. And how without even realising it, we’ve been witness to the consequences of intersectionality.

Sadly, intersectionality is not limited to one particular country but is a construct that has become deeply ingrained all over the globe. The problem though, lies with our failure to recognise its existence and factor it into policies and laws that we put into place in the interest of making healthcare accessible to all. From a global perspective, the most relevant concept where intersectionality must be taken into account would surely be the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals that ensure universal health coverage (UHC)access. Recognising and factoring it into the implementation of each goal is key to achieving these goals. Taking into account something as simple as cardiovascular disease and migration, the role of race, gender, ethnicity in terms of incidence and prevalence has been well-explored and the differences in the same are well-established.

An intersectional lens concerning healthcare, therefore, allows the factoring in of disparities and inequalities in incidence of diseases and how this influences one’s access to healthcare. As healthcare professionals, when we actively advocate for causes we believe in, be it mental health, sexual and reproductive health rights or any issue of public health relevance, it is important to factor intersectionality into our advocacy campaign. The recognition of intersectionality, therefore, serves as the first step to tackling it .

Chetana Rajesh

A passionate writer and final year medical student hoping to make a difference through words!

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