Human Dignity And Universal Health Care

2296 words - 10 pages

Human dignity in relation to healthcare is in this day a widely debated issue. With increasing focus on fair and just treatment for all human beings alike one finds that there is a great deal of attention paid to healthcare, one of the most basic requirements for humans (Buijsen, 2010). The case study,Human Dignity and Universal Health Care, looks into the debate underlying public healthcare in Australia and the terms of having citizens access healthcare. Human dignity is critical to the arguments underpinning this case study, given the different angles adopted on the subject and how relevant they are in ensuring that dignity of the person is upheld.
A look into two key perspectives sheds ...view middle of the document...

Marmot (2004) argues that while autonomy is important in it is achieved when the person is subjected to certain standards in society that facilitate the utmost use of their freedom of choice. In the same that poverty is equated to lack of dignity, one may argue that inequality is also a source of dignity. Human dignity is achieved when an individual has both health and autonomy. Marmot (2004) links these two to each other, arguing that without autonomy, one’s health is threatened. Further, he argues that it is necessary to have individuals taking responsibility for their own health.
However, despite the calls for personal responsibility, Marmot (2004) appreciates the limitations that inequality in society imposes on the disadvantaged. He argues that when social structures do not put checks on the degree to which people exercise autonomy and inequality is allowed to prevail, it is likely that some individuals will be deprived of basics such as education and health (Marmot, 2004). As such, the capacity of these individuals to take responsibility for their actions is undermined. At this point, human dignity is undermined too.

Table 1: Approaches to Grounding Human Dignity
1A. Dignity that humans always already have
• By being a member of the human species 2A. Dignity that humans can acquire or lose
• Through a sense of self-worth
1B. Dignity that humans always already have
• Based on possession of one or more human capacities 2B. Dignity that humans acquire or lose
• Through moral or immoral behavior
Source; (Class Notes, 2014)
Marmot’s work draws from quadrant 1A in table 1, whereby, by being human, all persons are entitled to respect for their dignity (Harvard University, 2008). This is befitting, because according to Marmot (2004), human beings are equally entitled to health and autonomy, which are fundamental to human dignity. However, his argument also fits into quadrant 2A since he argues that human dignity is tied to one’s access to facilities such as education and health, without which society cannot expect to hold one responsible for their actions. Inability to access health care erodes one’s dignity (Buijsen, 2010).
Background and Values of Proponents
The author, Sir Michael Gideon Marmot is a 21st Century English medical doctor (UCL Institute of Health Equity, 2012). Given this background, it is possible that he has witnessed patients from unstable backgrounds financially fail to access medical care that they required. He has a vast background in research, particularly on heart ailments, whose treatments absorb many resources financially. As such, he must be aware of the plight of the financially unstable in societies that fail to make provisions for the care of the poor. The fact that he is an advocate for universal healthcare as a way of upholding human dignity must stem from the fact that he has witnessed patients lose their capacity to make decision to their untreated illnesses (UCL Institute of Health Equity, 2012). This...

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