Online Webinar: Lisa Eckenwiler — An Eco-Structural Approach to Health Ethics

University of Minnesota Ethics Grand Rounds

Dr. Eckenwiler will describe an eco-structural approach (ESA) to health ethics, suggesting that it should advance ethical ideals in many domains, especially health justice. With a conception of people as ecological subjects, an ESA privileges place, seeing people as dwelling in particular health ecosystems. How do conditions support or undermine health? Simultaneously, an ESA situates us in social norms and processes. Do these enhance the capability to be healthy? Do they generate structural health injustice?  We operationalize an ESA in patient care by attending to conditions in the sites where birthing, healing, and dying take place, their lights, sounds, smells, material provisions, and physical design. In long-term care, an ESA recognizes design and other place-related features, and also critiques the “sourcing” of its workforce from low-income countries for contributing to global health inequities. With public health, an ESA sutures sundered relations with health care and with sectors significant to health, like urban planning. Relationships between people, animals, land, the built environment, and climate demand attention, as do racist norms and global economic processes that thwart health justice in long-ensconced ways. An ESA might envision a revolution in health governance that challenges nationalism, where health systems serve (some) citizens, yet are dependent on human resources supplied via colonial ties, global economic structures, and labor policies. An ESA might have us design around shared investment in and global coordination of health worker education and deployment, tailored to specific health ecosystems to help ensure equity.

Learning Objectives: After this webinar, attendees will:

  1. Be able to define social determinant of health
  2. Be able to define structural injustice and structural health injustice
  3. Be able to explain why “place” is important for health

Find more information about the event here: https://bioethics.umn.edu/events/eco-structural-approach-health-ethics

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