During this week's press conference, President Obama addressed the American public about health care reform, an issue that continues to draw much debate. Health care speaks to the larger Islamic principles of preserving life and meeting the needs of the less fortunate and therefore is an important issue affecting all Americans. The issue is not about socializing or privatizing healthcare, but rather a human right which is afforded to all, not only the few who can pay for it.
"I understand how easy it is for this town to become consumed in the game of politics, to turn every issue into a running tally of who’s up and who's down...So let me be clear: This isn't about me. I have great health insurance, and so does every member of Congress. This debate is about the letters I read when I sit in the Oval Office every day and the stories I hear at town hall meetings."
Among one of the five major objectives of Islamic jurisprudence is the preservation of life, which in today's world includes access to health care. Not only does this demonstrate social responsibility on the part of our leaders, but is also one method by which the state is obligated to ensure justice and protect the rights and dignity of its citizens. The state is accountable for preserving and promoting life as a basic need of all people to create healthy and well-balanced individuals and communities.
As such, public health organizations and our government are focused on prevention methods as a way to control costs and increase the health status of all Americans. Non-profit organizations such as the American Muslim Health Professionals (AMHP), the Association of Physicians of Pakistani-Descent of North America (APPNA), and the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) are promoting just that. Reform would include early intervention and education policies in schools as well as modifying urban planning and food policies that promote more physical activity and healthy eating habits.
Americans must continue the conversation on health care reform. De-politicizing the conversation is imperative to holding substantive discussion on this issue and ultimately extending health care to all.