Relating to the documentary Crude, what general role would the professional in health policy serve in this situation? What task related to environmental health issues as seen in the film could the professional in health policy undertake?

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In the simplest terms, the general role of professionals in health policy is to influence the formation government policy on public health issues. The health policy professional is knowledgeable in the sciences of environmental, biological, sociological and other health-related issues and interfaces between healthcare concerns and legislative concerns relevant to the complex challenges relating to the inter-relationships between science and health in the public health sector ( Health policy professionals "understand the issues and are willing to advocate for their patients" (

In the Ecuadorean Amazon situation, the general role of the professional in health care would be to work with contamination and remediation assessment professionals and to interface with government officials to identify the best policy solutions to the immediate and long-term public health issues and to act as an advocate for the affected people who have no voice in government themselves [that the lawsuit against Texaco (Chevron after merger) lingered unattended to for nine years in the U.S. legal system and seven in the Ecuadorean legal system before being heard strongly indicates the voicelessness of the affected people and their need for advocates].

The task related to environmental health issues undertaken by the professional in health policy as related to Crude would be, for example, to find immediate solutions for access to health care, to clean drinking and bathing water, and to the development of a healthier village environment.

The actions initiated by Sting's wife, Trudie Styler, and the fund and NGOs (non-government organizations) aligned with her provide a good illustration of the task professionals in health policy undertake. Because clean drinking water was an immediate problem, Styler and NGOs brought in barrels for clean drinking water collection from rain water [the painful irony is that products brought to the villages were made of petrol-chemical plastics that themselves produce toxic particle residues and gasses]. While other professionals address the long-term tasks of assessment, analysis, decontamination and remediation, health policy professionals identify and advocate solutions for immediate problems while interfacing to formulate public policy for long-term issues including healthier village environments where, for example, houses are not built on top of waste pits and children don't play by pipelines.

The presence of Ecuadorean economist and President Rafael Correa (then president-elect) for an on-site inspection of the Texaco contamination and spills sites illustrates how opportunities exist for health policy professionals to advocate for affected people and to open an informed discourse with government for the purpose of influencing legislative public health policy through scientific information, assessment and analysis.

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