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Call for COVID-19 responses to apply comprehensive public health principles

Call for COVID-19 responses to apply comprehensive public health principles

By Kent Buse
on November 19, 2020

Kent Buse & Anthony Zwi wrote this on behalf of the Reclaiming Comprehensive Public Health Group

Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic reflect long-standing tensions in public health between biosecurity- and biomedically-focused approaches and those that address social determinants, facilitate participation and protect human rights.

As noted by Loewenson in a recent commentary, “…we cannot allow the response to COVID-19 to reduce public health in institutional practice and in the public mind to biosecurity alone, treating people as objects not agents, undermining knowledge, equity, rights and decades of prior work. We need to protect and advance a public health that is rooted in public interest and in the public; that is proactive, effective, participatory, principled, just, based on scientific and social evidence; that acts upstream on the social determinants of health and that builds co-operation between health, other sectors and communities and between countries globally.”

Responding to this concern, people from a range of countries, sectors, constituencies and disciplines involved in public health have prepared a ‘Call to Action’ on heads of state and government, and others involved in shaping the response to COVID-19. The Call sets out the principles for a comprehensive approach in countering current and future pandemics. This ‘Call’ and initial signatories will be launched at https://www.healthysocieties2030.org/ on 1 December in advance of the Special Session of the UN General Assembly (3-4 December 2020) in response to COVID-19.

We invite all involved in health and pandemic responses to read the Call, and if you support the principles, to sign it (personally and/or institutionally) and engage others. Please email RCPHcall@gmail.com with ‘RCPH Call’ in the subject line to obtain a pre-launch copy of the Call, including in different languages. We would welcome a few lines on your (or your organisation’s) perspective on key issues raised in the Call that might be of use in wider public outreach through the Call website and briefings.

About Kent Buse

Director of the global programme on Healthier Societies, The George Institute for Global Health.

About Anthony Zwi

Health, Rights and Development (HEARD@UNSW); Professor of Global Health and Development School of Social Sciences | Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences | UNSW Australia
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