IDS joins global call to reclaim comprehensive public health in wake of Covid-19

Published on 4 December 2020

In the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have witnessed the unresolved tension between bio-secure, militarised and ‘vertical’ approaches to public health in contrast to ‘horizontal’ approaches that emphasise community participation, human rights, and social-determinants of health. Over the course of the 20th century and now into the 21st, these distinct politics of public health have waxed and waned in influence within the leading institutions of global health. It seems clear that this current global health crisis is the latest in a long line of opportunities to develop alternative ways of thinking and doing.

Inspired to address this issue, the Reclaiming Comprehensive Public Health Group (RCPH) came together, including several members of the IDS Health and Nutrition Cluster, Erica Nelson, Hayley MacGregor, and Gerry Bloom. The ambition was to reimagine what might be possible if comprehensive, social determinant, participatory and justice-driven public health was prioritised and adequately resourced.

Our contributions to these debates stem from ongoing work into accountability in health systems; pandemic preparedness; community engagement and involvement in public health; and historical understandings of the politics of public health/global health in Low and Middle Income Country contexts. It led to development of ten essential principles for a comprehensive approach to current and future pandemics that was detailed in commentary in BMJ Global Health.

The ten principles have since evolved to exist as a formal Call to Action. Translated into a variety of languages, these were launched on 30th November on  HealthySocieties2030 with an invitation from the RCPH group to all those involved in health and pandemic responses to engage. To find out more and lend your support to the principles, visit the website or email [email protected].


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