Health Justice Working Group
Welcome to the Health Justice Working Group Wiki.
The Health Justice Working Group of Occupy Boston was formed to discuss issues of healthcare inequality and injustice in the United States and abroad. Comprised of community members, public health workers, health activists, doctors, medical students, social workers and other healthcare workers, the group meets regularly to address issues of health equality.
The following text was officially ratified by working group consensus, and has been signed by well over 200 health professionals. The full text can be found on the official WG website, along with a place to co-sign: Solidarity Statement
Health Workers Stand with Occupy Boston
As Massachusetts health advocates and providers for the 99%, we stand with Occupy Boston and similar movements across the country and around the world. We are outraged at the accumulation of wealth by the few at the expense of the many and the appropriation of our government by corporations that value profits over people. The skewed distribution of resources in the U.S. reflects deep-rooted illness in the fabric of our society and inflicts serious health consequences.
We gain strength and inspiration from the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms the rights of all people to food, clothing, housing, and medical care. Despite such internationally recognized declarations, we bear witness to the fact that in Massachusetts, tens of thousands of our neighbors have no health insurance whatsoever, while millions more find themselves increasingly unable to afford necessary care. Hospital CEOs and insurance companies accumulate unprecedented wealth and power, while nursing work hours are cut to unsafe staffing levels. Medical debt remains, after job loss, the major cause of personal bankruptcy nationwide. Budget cuts to the Massachusetts mental health system have eliminated vital services and have led to higher rates of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, homelessness, and incarceration. As Medicaid and Medicare budgets are slashed, we remain the only nation in the world whose government refuses to negotiate prices of patented medications.
Though we spend more than a third again as much per capita on health care than any other nation in the world, we are the only industrialized nation that fails to provide universal health care. Currently, we rank 46th internationally for infant mortality, with approximately 6 deaths for every 1,000 children born. These terrible losses are not shared equally throughout our society. Here in Massachusetts, even with rates that are lower than the national average, infant deaths are twice as high in Black families than among Whites. We will not be silent in the face of such injustice. We believe that an honest pursuit of the right to health requires a comprehensive, national single-payer health system provided automatically to everyone.
The assault on the health of the 99% extends beyond medical care. For poor women across the country, barriers to healthy lives and families are further compounded by legislation that carves away women’s reproductive rights. Stripping workers of collective bargaining rights and reducing environmental regulations have made the U.S. a less safe place to live and work. The loss of millions of homes to foreclosure has been directly correlated with an increase in suicide attempts. Harsh anti-immigrant legislation creates a climate of fear which prevents families from accessing essential services and undermines public health. In our current recession, 25 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed, and there has been a drastic 32% rise in food insecurity. We seek to defend the human rights of all of us, especially those made most vulnerable by systemic injustices.
Only through collective action can we tackle these social ills and and truly promote the health of the 99%. To this end, we offer our support to the Occupy movements in Boston and around the globe, and pledge to work together to build a new society, one which protects and advances basic human rights for all.