Discuss the Factors That Contribute to the Unequal Access to Health Care and Escalation of the Health Care Cost, Making Specific Reference to Trinidad and Tobago. Suggest Recommendation That May Assist in Alleviating These Challenges

Topics: Sociology, Health care, Medicine Pages: 6 (2183 words) Published: December 5, 2010
This essay focuses on the comparing and contrasting the functionalist, conflict and symbolic interaction perspective on the health care system in Trinidad and Tobago and its problems. Functionalists note that health is essential to the preservation of the human species and organized social life. One way societies contain the negative effects of health problems and disease is through institutionalizing illness in a sick role. Conflict theorists note that some people achieve better health than others because they have access to those resources that contribute to good health and recovery should they become ill. And finally, symbolic Interactionist theorists view sickness as a condition to which we attach socially devised meanings. For example, an increasing number of behaviors that earlier generations defined as immoral or sinful are coming to be seen as forms of sickness the medicalization of deviance. The ministry of health is in the business of promoting wellness and ensuring the availability of quality health care to the people of Trinidad and Tobago in an affordable, sustainable and equitable manner. Although some advances were made, problems and inadequacies in the delivery of health care persisted. In addition, the Health Sector Reform Programme was developed with the aim of decentralizing the health services. The government of Trinidad and Tobago takes into account the WHO definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. (WHO, 1986). Health care therefore, is the prevention, treatment, and management of illness and the preservation of mental and physical well-being through the services offered by the medical and allied health professions.

In an attempt to address the problems the government of Trinidad and Tobago via the ministry of health implemented, the plan to decentralize the health services which was cultivated by strengthening the policy-making, planning and management capacity of the health sector; Separating the provision of services from financing and regulatory responsibilities; Shifting public expenditures and influencing the redirection of private expenditures to high priority problems and cost-effective solutions; Establishing new administrative and employment structures, which encourage accountability, increase autonomy and appropriate incentives to improve productivity and efficiency; Educing preventable morbidity and mortality through promoting lifestyle changes and other social interventions. (Ministry of Health, 2000). Functionalism is based around a number of key concepts. Firstly, society is viewed as a system a collection of interdependent parts, with a tendency toward equilibrium. Secondly, there are functional requirements that must be met in a society for its survival (such as reproduction of the population). Thirdly, phenomena are seen to exist because they serve a function (Holmwood, 2005:87). Conflict Theory states that the society or organization functions so that each individual participant and its groups struggle to maximize their benefits, which inevitably contributes to social change such as changes in politics and revolutions. The essence of conflict theory is best epitomized by the classic 'pyramid structure' in which an elite dictates terms to the larger masses. All major institutions, laws, and traditions in the society are designed to support those who have traditionally been in power, or the groups that are perceived to be superior in the society according to this theory. This can also be expanded to include any society's 'morality' and by extension their definition of deviance. Anything that challenges the control of the elite will likely be considered 'deviant' or 'morally reprehensible.' The theory can be applied on either the macro level (like the US government) or the micro level (a church organization or school club). Symbolic Interactionism: Herbert Blumer (1969),...
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