Modern identity crisis to blame for global health care disparities

Achieving health equity around the world demands that leaders address a modern identity crisis that has forsaken both God and neighbour.

That’s the premise of the first in a series of lectures for health carers and leaders being launched by Australian Catholic University’s Faculty of Health Sciences on Tuesday April 12.

In launching the Aquero Lecture Series, Dr Brian Kane, an honorary fellow of ACU and Senior Director of Ethics for Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), will argue the present crisis of health equity is not just a crisis of distribution.

“Instead, it is a crisis of identity, and a loss of the understanding of who we are as persons in relation to each other, and to God,” Dr Kane said.

The importance of the human person in pursuing social justice in health - meaning no healthcare system favours one group of people over another – outweighs all political debates on the subject.

“Often in our contemporary culture, it is very easy to frame the pursuit of justice in terms of political extremes,” Dr Kane said.

“However, this is not a ‘for or against’ struggle. When we get lost in the political realms of ‘conservative and progressive’ we lose sight of the central focus: the human person.”

A key to understanding health equity is the Church’s flagship encyclical on Catholic Social Teaching, Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum.

Promulgated in 1891, Dr Kane will argue that while the Church has made progress in realising Pope Leo XIII’s landmark encyclical, the full vision has not yet been fulfilled.

“My view is that the Catholic Social Tradition has prophetically voiced the aspirational goals of social equity, of which health equity is a part. There has been progress toward those goals, but not completion of the task.”

The Aquero Lecture Series takes the name of a word used by St Bernadette Soubirous when describing her visions of the Blessed Virgin in Lourdes, and aims to inspire principled leadership in the constantly changing health industry post-COVID-19.

The patron of ACU’s Faculty of Health Sciences, St Bernadette, is best known for receiving numerous visions of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes, a small town in southwest France, in 1858.

When recounting the apparitions in public, St Bernadette referred to the subject of her visions as Aquero, an Occitan word for ‘the one of whom I speak’, expressing her sincere reverence for the Mother Mary.

Executive dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor Suzanne Chambers, said Dr Kane’s expertise in health ethics would set the tone for the Aquero series.

“Dr Kane’s excellent understand of Catholic Social Teaching and the role the health sector plays in realising this vision will hopefully inspire serious discussions into how people across the world can achieve full health potential without disadvantage,” Professor Chambers said.

The first Aquero Lecture Series with Dr Brian Kane will be livestreamed for free on Wednesday 13 April 2022 4pm AEST.


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