Author: Nicholas VALELA
The place for personal responsibility within healthcare has been highly contested within academic debate. Meanwhile, leading causes of death within the United States have shifted to chronic disease as a result of lifestyle behaviours suggesting the need for health promotion to take action. In this position paper, I will argue that the less punitive element of personal responsibility implied by health promotion is both ethically justifiable and beneficial as a means of empowering the individual, population and healthcare system as a whole. Several counter-arguments are presented and subsequently refuted: health responsibility unduly places blame upon vulnerable populations; administration of negative sanctions based on health responsibility is difficult; and actions detrimentally affecting health are not certain to be autonomously undertaken by the individual. Arguments in favour are then presented: a dependence of the population upon the healthcare system has been created; empowerment is effective as the central guiding principle of health promotion; and sensible care for oneself should be a duty of citizens, which they are required to fulfill as the healthcare system is not in a position to act as an unlimited resource. As such, health promotion must continue to emphasize the importance of sensible health behaviour as a means of empowering individuals through self responsibility.