Individual or Population?

Katie Sloter

Katie Sloter

As I am going through this program, I am once again reminded of a nagging issue that I usually try not to consider. Work for the individual or work for the population? Of course the best case scenario is that both would be positively influenced, but at times you must choose.

This issue is in the same vein as the divide between personal beliefs and political beliefs. Personally, I may have one conviction — but does this mean I think that it should be mandated by law? Not necessarily. I must choose what is most important, and this can lead to cognitive dissonance, or at least some brain-heart wrestling.

Similarly, the benefit of a population compared to the benefit to the individual is a concept I struggle with in public health. For example, continuing to simply provide food to a country like Niger that cannot physically sustain its population with its own resources allows the population to continue to grow, thus compounding the issue of lack of food for said population. However, from an individual viewpoint, NOT providing outside resources to each person when you have the capability to do so is abhorrent.

How do you reconcile two such relevant and seemingly opposing worldviews as a public health practitioner?

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