By Hector Falcoff (France)
EQuiP Working Group Leader on Equity
Huge variation exists in the care that patients with the same health problem receive. These variation may reflect good medical care, adapted to patient needs, which may be different.
However, sometimes variations in care between patient groups find their origin in social processes or are the result of underlying social mechanisms: Unequal access to care for patients from different ethnic or socio-economic groups or differences in treatment between groups without any medical evidence.
According to Barbara Starfield and the International Society for Equity in Health (ISEqH) equity in health care implies that there are no differences in health care where health needs are equal (horizontal equity) or that enhanced health care is provided where greater health needs are present (vertical equity).
Inequity in health care refers to variations in health care which are not the result of variations in the patient’s need for care but from the patient’s social status, income, ethnic background, gender, intelligence level, or ability or willingness to participate in the management of their own conditions.
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