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In their article “The Civil Rights of Health,” Harris and Pamukcu offer a framework connecting civil rights law to unjust health disparities with the aims of creating broader awareness of subordination as a root cause of health inequities and inviting policymakers to create new legal tools for dismantling it. They close with a call to action. Here, we take up their call and propose cooperative enterprises as a health justice intervention. To illustrate this conceptualization, we focus on childcare as a system with robust connections to social, economic, and health equity for children, workers, and families.
Previous chapters examined how medical providers and the health care financing system have contributed to health inequities that Black people and disabled people in the United States encounter. But having health insurance and getting to see an unbiased, high quality doctor are not necessarily the most important contributors to promoting health and health equity, either for individuals or at the population level. More important are other determinants of health. These include individual behaviors like smoking, diet, and exercise and –critically – the social and physical environments that shape individual conduct.1 To give one example: neighborhood safety and availability of parks or playgrounds nearby influence a person’s ability to exercise conveniently and safely. Healthy behavior takes some individual initiative, but that initiative is far more likely when social and physical environments make healthy options available and easy to choose.2
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