Global Political Economies of Social Injustice in Global Health


The main principle of social justice on equity is not entrenched in the policies of political governance. Social justice in theory is a conceptual framework to help us unveil the underlying causes of inequity. As such, socioeconomically disadvantaged people such as women, children and other social groups are placed in positions with limited capabilities. As Amartya Sen alludes to is that “it is not so much what one has that is important but rather that one can do with what one has” (Marmot et al. 2019) showcasing the tiers of socioeconomic disadvantage. Additionally, the common theory is that the less wealth individuals have, they may report over time a degradation in health status. Into the bargain, the goal 17 in the UN resolution (2015) paints a narrative of restoring resource mobilization, increasing revenue capacities and fostering debt relief and restructuring. However, one cannot help speculate whether these policies are working against countries shaped forcefully to grapple with tacit racism overtime. 

In addition to the plight of racism, the social determinants of health such as social environment, wealth, housing, poverty, poor nutrition among many other factors present social justice through the lens of unequally sized vessels impacting various communities in different ways. Barry S. Levy (2019) leveraged the relationship between social injustice to global health in a multi-tiered approach by showcasing how favorable outcomes can be achieved through the monitoring and careful precision of approaches through the lens of community development and economic equity. The centerpiece surrounding equity is to create equal health outcomes for populations irrespective of social disadvantage, socioeconomic status, age, gender, health status or beliefs systems. This is a reflection on showing the complexity of pinpointing with accuracy by health measures the social components that facilitate the persistence of hegemonic constraints, the burden of illnesses, and economic downturn due to racism in governments.  

Associations of Social Injustice, Economics & Global Health

The nuances presented in the reading (Levy, 2019), display the notion of social justice enveloped in the coat of arms of community engagement, economic assistance and political governance. The author documented the progress made by the Physicians for a National Health Program, or the Medical Committee for Human Rights who exercised grassroots activism and focused on implementing projects based on social commonalities (i.e. poverty, health conditions, insurance coverage, social environments, etc.) as a justification for the viability of established community programs. Still, these entities elucidated the movement to advance social progress, racial and economic equity and universal health coverage, and supported the evidence that the political landscape hindered this progress with a pervasive agenda to subdue the most vulnerable groups such as women, children, and members of the LGBTQIA and other at-risk communities (Marmot et al. 2019).

The presumption outlined in the text is that an understanding of the intersection of economics and global health would provide tangible answers on using social determinants of health such as labor market policies, social protection, health and the environment to attenuate social inequities in disadvantaged groups. Nevertheless, even with an understanding of the intersection of economics and global health, the theoretical framework of de-stratifying social inequities does not give us clear examples on systems who implemented these strategies leading to favorable health outcomes. As such, the sustainability of power parity remains the status quo instead of a dynamic process holding governments accountable for their contribution to avert non-participatory democracy.

Moral Principles of Concern of Social Oppression on Health Outcomes

In my opinion, a pragmatic approach of uncapping the relationship of stratified levels of social oppression to economic downturn is not sufficient to repel established autocratic social systems. It might be useful to gain insight on the principles communities with their governments are trying to protect. By way of illustration, the moral principle of concern is that the presence of non-profit, for-profit, and local entities amplify the inadequacies of government systems to tackle social injustices. On the other hand, vulnerable communities seek to preserve their sense of autonomy to counteract systemic stigmatization. Opponents of government assistance may argue that policy changes do not result in or prevent coercion and exploitation of disadvantaged communities. As a result, this becomes a power play due to perceived positional inequity between governments and populations served. Current laws governing societies explicate the behavioral ambivalence of privileged people allowed to control state of affairs on the distribution of resources. Though Dr. Levy (2019) speaks of market justice as a mechanism that protects privileged groups, it is worth noting that the metrics used to evaluate efficiency and impact of international treaties and national laws may be altered to serve a political agenda. Therefore, one’s relationship with power and influence constitute some of the limiting beliefs or factors hindering government systems and populations to merge forces to create sustainable change

Effects of Colonization on the Indigenous Peoples of Australia

Likewise, Dr Levy (2019) underlined the impact of transnational determinants on the scope of problems plaguing specific communities. Unpeeling the layers of social injustice as it relates to the demise of vulnerable populations aid in discerning the motives of those who purport to do more harm than good. As a result, research findings allow us to develop and transform social responses to crises such as global pandemics, food swamps and the paucity of health services in rural areas.

As an example, the indigenous people in Australia fit the description of a social group affected by the effects of colonization (Griffiths et al. 2016). Specifically, the author cites intergenerational trauma, racism, low socioeconomic status and high incarceration rates as determinants of social injustice indigenous people have faced. More importantly, Dr. Griffiths (2016) draws upon the importance of linking context to vulnerable groups for insight on the impact of social injustice on stratified levels of societies. Based on the aforementioned health determinants, the reader is compelled to inquire more on the social models guiding legislative procedures. Furthermore, the other question is centered on whether contemporary policies continue to mirror the tenets of historical colonial policies. Evidently, at the core of inequality lies the branch of market justice dictating the access of power and influence to more socially advantaged groups. 

Furthermore, the study contributes to the empirical knowledge that community groups who are economically deprived tend to experience generational trauma, suicide and increased violence at the micro-level of civilizations. At the macro-level, these groups tend to have a personal connection with the scope of their burden providing data to inform policies. In this scenario, colonization was the parameter that defined the prevalence of diseases and life expectancy for the indigenous peoples of Australia.


Throughout the reading, there are remaining escape clauses that cannot bridge the association of social injustice as a determinant of health disparities. Besides the positional inequity handled by vulnerable populations such as women, children and members of at-risk communities, the author presents the information from the viewpoints of those considered victims of the uneven distribution of economic power. The historical colonialist portrayal of non-whites as less privileged was presented as an example on how social injustice is a man-made mechanism to subdue the rights and privileges of underserved communities. Overall, the development of reliable data metrics may prove useful in chronicling an accurate portrayal of transnational health disparities to permanently remove social inequities in policies that affect at-risk communities worldwide.


1. Arabena, K. (2006). Preachers, policies and power: the reproductive health of adolescent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 17(2), 85-90.

2. Fein, O., & Phillips, C. S. (2019). Learning from the social movements of the 1960s. In Levy, B. S., & McStowe, H. L. (Eds.), Social injustice and public health (p. 575-588). Oxford University Press.

3. Griffiths, K., Coleman, C., Lee, V., & Madden, R. (2016). How colonization determines social justice and Indigenous health—a review of the literature. Journal of Population Research, 33(1), 9-30.

4. Levy, B. S., & McStowe, H. L. (2019). The impact of social injustice on public health. In Levy, B. S., & McStowe, H. L. (Eds.), Social injustice and public health (p. 3-19). Oxford University Press.

5. Levy, B. S., & McStowe, H. L. (2019). The impact of social injustice on public health. In Levy, B. S., & McStowe, H. L. (Eds.), Social injustice and public health (p. 439-462). Oxford University Press.

6. Marmot, M.,& Bell, R. (2019). Socioeconomically disadvantaged people. In Levy, B. S., & McStowe, H. L. (Eds.), Social injustice and public health (p. 23-43). Oxford University Press.

7. United Nations. (2015). Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Available at Accessed June 2, 2020. 

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