Healthcare Inequity: Why Does It Exist and How Can We Fix It?

ImageIn a world, it is shocking that in some countries, deaths from preventable diseases are rising and life expectancies are dropping. In many countries, this is due to a phenomenon termed “brain drain” that leaves a huge lack of trained, quality healthcare workers in developing countries and more remote areas.

For example, Africa represents twenty-five percent of the global disease burden but only three percent of healthcare workers. Many of the professionals in local healthcare systems immigrate to other developed countries such as the US, leaving a demand that wholly overwhelms the supply; patients with even the most basic diseases have no access to care. All across Africa, many patients with HIV/AIDS cannot be treated immediately and are often left on their own for days before given medical attention.

Effective sexual health care and prevention cannot be achieved without having an adequate healthcare structure and sustainable system of care. There must be an ample supply of health practitioners as well as clinics, equipment, hygiene and preventative resources. It is also important that these systems have the support of the local governments; in many developing countries, foreign aid is also crucial to serving the local population.

In order to create more efficient and accessible service in these developing countries, such as areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, it is important for developed countries to offer “packages of care” so that following an HIV or STI test, people are simultaneously able to receive educational material, contraceptives and other resources. Through a preventative strategy, new cases of HIV can be avoided and health literacy can be increased to improve long-term outcomes. 

In addition to supporting local health workers, I also believe it is the responsibility of developed nations to address issues of global poverty and healthcare inequity from the roots. This is why I strongly support the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that require all rich countries to contribute to eight global goals through financial and human resource support. In 2000, 189 nations within the United Nations signed the Millennium Declaration, which aims to end global poverty by 2015, among other goals. The goals are as follows:

MDG 1: reduce by half (compared to 1990) the number of people living on less than a dollar a day and who suffer from hunger.

MDG 2: ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling.

MDG 3: eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005 and at all education levels by 2015.

MDG 4: reduce by two thirds (compared to 1990) the mortality rate among children under five.

MDG 5: reduce by three quarters (compared to 1990) the maternal mortality rate.

MDG 6: halt the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB.

MDG 7: reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.

MDG 8: ensure that rich countries lift trade barriers to poor countries, lighten their debt burden, provide access to affordable medicines and make more financial aid available.

After reading these Millennium Development Goals, here’s some questions I’ll leave you with. Do you think it is actually possible to eliminate global poverty by 2015? Which of these goals do you think is most feasible, and which are the most difficult issues to tackle? How do you view the United Nation’s stand on global health and socioeconomic inequity?



Author: Dr. Ada Gu

Graduated from University of California - Berkeley in May 2015 with a B.A Public Health. Completed medical school in 2018 at McMaster University and currently doing my family medicine residency at Western University. Still learning how to balance academics with extracurricular activities, research, a social life, sleep and life's limitless distractions. So excited to see what adventures lay ahead! Love traveling (I've been to 60 countries!), trying new things like sky diving and shark cage diving, most outdoor activities, trying new foods and restaurants, wine tasting and hot yoga.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

CJ McGillivray

Vancouver, BC

Disrupted Physician

The Physician Wellness Movement and Illegitimate Authority: The Need for Revolt and Reconstruction


This is a blog about the clinical years of medical school and my experiences in learning to be a doctor. All of the names are made up and patient demographic info is tweaked here and there. Hope you enjoy! Feel free to comment or ask questions!


Tenacious MD - a (slightly comedic) perspective of medical school through a student crazy enough to do it

PRS Resident Chronicles

The Official Resident Blog of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and PRS Global Open, Journals of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons

Adventures in Medicine

Medical School and Beyond!

Paging Student Dr. Kendra

Paging the Life of Student Dr. Kendra One Blog at a Time


"Eat to live, don't live to eat"


Health, Beauty and more

%d bloggers like this: