Kristin Ankoma-Sey Reflection 6/22

Based on our conversation and reading this week, how would you answer the question posed by Atul Gawande—Is Health Care a Right?

This past week during Re-Imagining Medicine, we discussed how economic factors influence healthcare. During this session, we were joined by guests Dr. Nora Dennis, Dr. Kristin Ito, Dr. Mehul Mankand, Dr. Cecilia Ordonez, and Dr. Rob Saunders. Since the discussion focused on the economic factors of health, it seamlessly related to the question of whether health care is a right. Personally, I believe health care is a right due to the importance the role of a sufficient level of health plays in order for an individual to live a comfortable life. Additionally, I would argue from a country-specific lens that in the United States health care should be a right based on the large amount of money that our country already allocates to health care. However, it is important to note that this large sum of money being allocated to healthcare is not being utilized in an efficient manner.

Due to this week’s discussion, for the most part my belief that health care is a right was supported. However, during a breakout room session with Dr. Mehul Mankand, the Chief Medical Officer of Alliance Health, I was able to further develop a belief that not only is health care a right, but also that health care must extend beyond the walls of a hospital or a doctor’s office. During the breakout session, Dr. Mankand asked us to imagine a scenario in which a young child with asthma keeps on visiting emergency rooms due to asthma attacks, but what if the root problem of this child’s poorly managed asthma was due to the fact that the child lived in government-subsidized housing which contained old carpeting and mold in the walls? Dr. Mankand then posed the question of whether in order to achieve the best health outcome for the child, should these housing issues be fixed as a healthcare cost? This scenario prompted me to think more critically about social determinants of health and how issues associated with these determinants can affect healthcare and tie into the question of whether health care is a right.

Kristin Ankoma-Sey is a rising junior from Houston, TX, majoring in Cultural Anthropology who hopes to pursue a career as a physician. She currently conducts research in the Willis lab about mimulus guttatus and has previously conducted research about electronic medical records. Some of her hobbies include reading, travelling, and gardening.

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