, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 193-208

Equity in Health Care from a Communitarian Standpoint

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Abstract

Equity in health and health care is animportant issue. It has been proposed that thepursuit of equity in health care is beinghampered by the dominance of individualism inhealth care practices. This paper explores theway in which communitarian ideals and practicesmight lend themselves to the pursuit of equity.Communitarians acknowledge, respect and fosterthe bonds that unite and identify communities.The paper argues that, to achieve equity inhealth care, these bonds need to be recognisedand harnessed rather than ignored. The notionof individual autonomy in the context of thecommunity is examined. Alternative concepts ofautonomy – social autonomy and communityautonomy – are seen to be more respectful andnurturing of both the individual and thecommunity. Moreover, these concepts appeardesirable for the pursuit of health care equitygoals. The paper concludes with some thoughtsabout how equity in Australia's health caresystem can reasonably progress within acommunitarian vision. Disadvantaged communitiesare discussed throughout, in particular,Australian Aboriginal communities.