A Wake-Up Call in Our Upside-Down World: Three Starting-Points for Advancing Health Rights and Social Justice in a Post-Pandemic Future
Journal of Human Rights Practice, 12(2), 260-267 (2020)
Posted: 24 Feb 2021
Date Written: October 10, 2020
What the world and our health systems and societies look like in the future depends on the meaning(s) we take from this pandemic, and in turn how we collectively respond. Before the pandemic, we were living in a scandalously unequal world in which one per cent owned as much wealth as the rest of the globe’s population. Worse yet, as Eduardo Galeano suggested, in our upside-down world, this injustice had come to be accepted as a law of nature. This calamity has ravaged the planet with added suffering—some from the disease itself and more that is the result of structural injustice and policies adopted in response. But the disruption in the lives of tens of millions, as well as in the organization of our societies, provides an opportunity for subverting a number of pillars of the upside-down world, and we in the overlapping fields of health justice and human rights have a responsibility to think and act boldly on transformative political possibilities now. In this essay, I set out three lessons and the implications of those lessons. First, we must hold governments to account for the disparate impacts not only of the virus but of governmental responses to the virus. Secondly, if we hope to emerge from this pandemic with meaningful social contracts, it is imperative that we understand health and health systems as integral to democracy. Thirdly, we need to reimagine the architecture of aid, as well as global health and economic governance.
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