What is Health Justice?

What Does Health Justice Mean for the Communities You Work With?

“I work with low-income communities in metropolitan areas, and health justice means an opportunity to think beyond basic human survival.”- Courtney L. Anderson, Georgia State University, College of Law

“Health justice, to me, is a parallel concept to Reproductive Justice. Health rights are not sufficient to ensure access-- true health justice requires action to address structures that put health out of reach for some on the basis of morally arbitrary characteristics (e.g. race, immigration status, sexuality, gender, zip code).” - Rachel Fabi, Upstate Medical University

“It means truly listening to the thoughts and wishes of all members of the community when it comes to health care -- not dismissing their agency, or adopting new 'enlightened' forms of paternalism based on the belief that their medical decisions cannot be trusted.” - Joan Krause, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Law

“I work in an operationally focused center for health security, which means that we are on the ground responding to infectious disease outbreak. With COVID-19, we have worked to implement infection prevention and control measures in some of the most undeserved groups--in meat processing plants, for example. We've also spent time in nursing homes training and trying to support staff with real-time consults and mentorship in infection prevention and control. The Health Justice framework is new to me, but to date, it has meant consistently overturning 'neutral' positions, processes, and plans when it comes to responding to COVID-19. Investigating those 'neutral' position often mean examining the power gradient that exists institutionally, interpersonally, structurally, etc. This requires collaborating more broadly and inviting more voices into response plans in both the academic community and within the community we are supporting. Our teams have become more interdisciplinary, and in some of the better examples, more able to ask communities what they need from us and adapting our plans, and 'best practices' to respond to those needs.”- Abbey Lowe, University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health

“Health justice offers an alternative to the market competition, professional autonomy, and patient rights paradigms that have historically dominated health law scholarship, advocacy, and reform. Based on the experiences of the reproductive justice, environmental justice, and food justice movements, a health justice approach to using law as a tool to eliminate health disparities involves at least three key commitments: First, to a broader inquiry that views access to health care as one among many social determinants of health deserving of public attention and resources. Second, to probing inquiry into the effects of racism, misogyny, classism, and other forms of structural, social, and cultural bias on the design and implementation of measures to reduce health disparities. And third, to collective action grounded in community engagement and empowerment.” - Lindsay F. Wiley, American University, Washington College of Law

Recommended for Further Reading: