Write an Essay on Empowerment and public health practice.
Identification of the differences between the health disparity as well as the social determinants of health often affects the health and quality of lives of people in different ways. Therefore, health promotion programs are necessary, as they are the processes that enable people for controlling over their health and different determinants for controlling them to improve their health (Eldredge et al., 2016). Therefore, for this reason it becomes extremely important for the government and the healthcare practitioners to take effective roles in the programs that would help in empowering people. This would help them to overcome helplessness, depression and anxiety and help in living fit and healthy lives from their co morbid diseases situations. In order to empower people, governmental organizations have to play a big role where they need to use their soft power in ways by which they can provide proper resources and funding that enable effective arrangement of health promotion programs (Cyril, smith and Renzaho 2015). In these programs, the healthcare practitioners are also important stakeholders whose political actions help in making big differences in the various types of crises that arise. This assignment would thereby try to explain and provide more light on the concept put forward by Laverack called the “practitioners need to recognize that an empowering public health practice is a political activity’.
Empowering public health practice:
Empowerment can be defined as the means of attaining power. In domain of public health, it can be described as the procedure by which the disadvantaged people are seen to work in collaboration with different professionals so that they can control over events that control their lives. Researchers are however of the opinion that empowerment can never be given but can only be gained by those individuals who try to seek it (Ferrera et al. 2015). Therefore, those professionals who have the power, capability as well as access life that of the healthcare practitioners and those who need it such as their patients – all should be working together for creating a situation that makes empowerment in public health possible. It should be stated that the healthcare professionals have to take up a huge role in order to ensure empowerment of the individuals who seek for help or the communities who come for help from the healthcare professionals. Therefore, it is important for the healthcare professionals to play a mutual role where they can help in the facilitation of the changes (Fertman and Allensworth, 2016). The clients, on the other hand, are those stakeholders who would be identifying and thereby executing the changes. One important factor that needs to be discussed here in the context of empowering people. Many of the professionals are not knowledgeable to use their power base in the ethically correct ways. Their failure to identify and effective utilisation of their power base accounting for their inability to provide resources, services and delivery of effective information affect the action of empowering people. Therefore, professionals need to properly identify their power and roles and their strength in changing the lives of the people by effectively empowering them (Dela Cancela et al. 2016). For empowering people, three important levels need to be attended by the professionals of which the first one is the individual of the psychological empowerment. Another component is the political action component where the members should actively participate. Apart from this, another important component for empowering the community is the family empowerment that gains importance in the non-westernized countries. In the non-westernized, comprehensive care health programs which are targeted for individual heath programs, mainly target behavioral changes for increase of knowledge and might not bring out best outcomes. Here, family programs tend to target the social units that are easily accepted by the people of the community. Therefore healthcare professionals can be defined as the interaction between the different individuals, family as well as organizational forms of empowerment (Baum 2016). This is seen to take place both at the collective level as well as the individual level and can be defined as the dynamic process that mainly incorporates continuous shift in the power between the individuals and different groups in the society.
Understanding of political activity in the context of empowering communities:
In order to promote the health of communities and individuals living in communities to develop a fit life, it is often seen that passionate healthcare professionals and organization or healthcare centers are working hard. This is because they want to ensure that experiencing a healthy life is the priority as well as that well-being is seen to be strengthened at every of the different types of opportunity (Marmot, bell and Howelling 2009). Thereby, professionals are seen to work together to ensure development of effective relationships as well as partnerships that help in building coalition to bring out the best results. However, it is indeed true that this entire approach is entirely political in nature and politics play an important role in shaping the métier programs and thereby modifying the public health scenarios in every community. Researchers in the domains of public health have stated that the public health programs might have lead to different types of health promotion outcomes foremost in the objectives but it is in fact political in nature (Laverack 2016). This is said so because of the health promotion involves many different types of shifting ideas as well as attitudes and resources as well as power to different positions that are used effectively for strengthening the health as well as well-being of the populations. Literature has suggested that political actions are intricately associated with public health promotion programs. There important principles are identified each of which requires actions in the political realms. However, one important thing that needs to be mentioned is that all those officials whom we elect for representing us can perform not all the actions required nor the public servants who are given employment for enacting the will of the elected parties can achieve it (Hyde 2012). Most of the actions that are encapsulated in these three important principles can be undertaken by the civil society by undertaking different types of social movements as well as also by the enlightened as well as empowered health promoters. Therefore, it can be easily understood that not only the political leaders abut also the powerful health promoters also involve in political decision making ensuring the smooth conducting of the health promotions and community empowerment. One of the most important principle is the improvement of the conditions of the daily lives of the people that that help in modifying the circumstances in which the people are seen to be born, grow, age, live and work. The second principle is the tackling of the inequitable distribution of the power, resources as well as the money (Minkler et al. 2012). These elements are the structural drivers of the conditions of the daily lives that take place globally, nationally as well as locally. The third principle is the measurement of the problem as well as evaluation of the action, expansion of the base knowledge and thereby development of the workforce. This workplace is seen to be mainly trained in the various types of topics of the social determinants of the health. This would help in raising the public awareness where people would be able to know about the social determinants of health. In order to enlighten more on the role of political action in the public health domain, the concept of social determinants of health needs to be discussed that would be followed by further shedding of light on the concept.
Social determinants of health:
The political context is mainly seen to affect all the areas of the government policy, which have an impact on health both directly as well as indirectly. Researchers are of the opinion that health is political concept also as power is exercised over it as well as correlations such as organization and citizenship (Anderson et al. 2011). The WHO organization’s reporting of the ten social determinants of the health like the “social class gradient, stress, early life, social exclusion, work, unemployment, social support, addiction, food and transport.”Evidences from the literature have suggested that politics play a great role in the different social determinants of the health that in turn act as the best predictors of the individuals as well as population of health. These social determinists of health are seen to structure the lifestyle choices and depending upon their interaction with the health of the people, the quality of lives led by people are determined. Thereby, this concept in turn leads to different national as well as international policy decisions. This can be explained with the help of an example (Clark and Krupta 2002). With the passing of the years, obesity has reached a level where it has attained the governmental attention because of the co-morbid disorders it is resulting in people and the huge healthcare funds that are allocated for its treatment. Several social determinants of health can be stated here that are resulting in such a situation in the nation and requires strong political actions. One of them is the low socio-economic status cohort who is unable to afford the high quality organic foods that are low on calories and high on nutrient content. In such a situation, politics have a role to play where the governmental departments of health should take initiatives by which the poor section of the society should also get access to costly organic fruits and vegetable to maintain their lives. As such cohort of people has very less power to utilize, the professionals of the government should take upon the activities where they would initiate initiatives like the reduction of the price of organic food products which would help the individuals to buy nutritious products (Laliberta et al. 2012). Education is another determinant of health, lack of which may result in heath illiteracy resulting individuals to take up actions that harm their health like eating of fast foods, sessile mode of work, lack of physical activities and exercises and many others. Therefore, healthcare professionals also need to educate the communities about the necessity of behavioral changes required in such scenario to overcome the threats that arise from the disorder. The national broadcasting corporation can take another political action where they will be filtering out the improper advertisements that influence the unhealthy behaviors and result in introduction of advertisements that educate the intake of nutritious foods (Martinson and Su 2012). The politics can thereby influence communities for better health living. These shows how politics and professionals can help in development of a healthy nation.
One of the most important facts is that politics is a large part of not only the governmental actions but also play an important role in deciding the fact as well as the initiatives that need to be taken for the healthcare promotions. The resources those are accessible by the people of the community are mainly determined through the different political means as well as procedures (Obama 2002). Political actions include analyzing of the important foundations of the health promotions programs, analyzing its relevance on the health promotion, and thereby allow the utilization of resources by the effective flow of the fund systems. Researchers are of the opinion that the attitudes towards making the people taking more control or to direct resources for the addressing of the health issue are entirely political. However, it should not be only considered that it entirely depends on just the decision made by the government officials in the government offices. Although politics seems to be highly associated with the governance and the activities of the state, it is also concerned largely by the management of the community affairs. Four important political values that are intricately associated with public health and empowerment are the conflict resolution, compromise, negotiations as well as reconciliation (Laverack 2013). On the other hand politics can be defined as the demonstration of effective application of the power for controlling over the way that resources are seen to be produced as well as distributed and utilized for creating necessary infrastructure. Politics can be of both ways- it can represent the bigger picture and may focus on global, national as well as regional issues and to can also be local which might include intimate as well as immediate and ultimately emotional.
Public health practitioner:
Public health practitioners are mainly employed for delivering information as well as resources and services. Their clients mainly see them as outside agents. Public health always entails some form of power relationship between the different stakeholders primarily between the professionals and their clients. Here the clients can be referred to as the people who are requiring information, resources and well as services for promoting their health (Chapman 2004). They are indirectly described as the enforcer of the public health legislation like that of environmental health officer which shows how the professionals have gained power over their clients through the use of legislation. The work gets supported by environmental departments like that of the inspection, complain investigation, licensing and other legal proceedings. Therefore, they are considered as the part of the political system of the governments. Another of their role is to be in the role of the healthcare professionals who have high level of access to superior technical resources and knowledge and are concerned with the education, training as well as the specialist services. This can be clarified with the help of the example like that of the nursing professionals who provide advice and skills to any young mothers at an antenatal group. Another role that the healthcare practitioner plays is the role of the enforcer, educator as well as technical specialists. Researchers are of the opinion that empowering many patients becomes easier when they are themselves ready to take on the responsibility and wants to be empowered (Auger 2013). However, there are many patients who does not have the ability to take such responsibilities or may not intervene or may not prepare themselves or feel powerless to empower themselves. In such situations, public health practice may have to intervene and resort to different other means like the use of policy as well as legislations like in case for the protection of the general population from the spread of the infectious diseases.
Health advocacy mainly refers to the actions that are taken by the healthcare practitioners for promoting the social as well as the economical, educational as well as the political changes that ultimately help in easing out the sufferings of the community people and helps in addressing the threats to public or individual health. The professional mainly archives this through their expertise and practice. However, it is seen that the healthcare professionals understand the importance of advocacy but many of them does not have the idea about how to participate in the advocacy activities (Ellis and Walson 2012). Advocacy is mainly seen to go beyond their helping of individuals to get the proper forms of services that they require mainly by working for addressing the source of the problems that they face and handling the issues from the root cause. They need to conduct effective needs assessment. A need assessment can help in identification and mapping of different issues in a community like that of the poverty levels as well as nutrition, housing, stress, income and even other crimes. When the community comes to understand the community assets and the needs of the community, they can feel motivated for making proper changes for the improvement of the health. A need assessment can thereby include “1) the makeup and history of the community, to provide a context on its current concerns; 2) what matters most to the people in the community, in terms of safety, education, housing, health; 3) the issues that matter to key community stakeholders; 4) the evidence on which problems or goals should take priority; and 5) the barriers against and resources for addressing the identified problems”. Practitioners are mainly involved in the influencing of the policies as well as the different practices that affect the health starting from the national to that of the community levels. This can be through their expert other in the meetings along with other technical advisory groups and the committees. However, it is indeed true that in order to influence the policy as well as the practice, professionals need to have a better understanding of the meaning of the power. They should also understand the ways by which their relationships with different clients are perceived and thereby they would actively act up by the professionals. The procedures of the collective action mainly help in bringing out the special as well as the political changes through the influencing of the policies (Varda et al. 2008). These changes are mainly through the legitimate action of the individuals through their effective decision making power like lobbying, protesting as well as voting. Moreover, it also helps in the educating the patients by which they can make them confident mainly be helping them to increase their knowledge, skills as well as competencies more effectively at the collective level. Therefore in this way, healthcare professionals, play an important role in the politics of health and thereby help in developing programs that help in meeting the needs and requirements of the nation (Ranade and Hudson 2008).
From the entire discussion, it becomes clear that politics play an important role in the healthcare sector and shapes the initiatives that need to be published for the development of the health of the individuals, communities and families. The healthcare professionals need to develop the power by which they can influence the clients to develop knowledge, health literacy and skills by which they can alter their behaviors for better quality life. By effectively advocating for the social determinants of the health of the people of the nation, the healthcare practitioners can ensure that they help the policy makers in developing policies that correctly meet the needs and requirements of the patients after proper needs assessments. Accordingly, they would be advocating for the public helping them to live better quality lives.
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