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Claiming Health as a Public Good in the Post-COVID-19 Era

Salma M. Abdalla (), Nason Maani, Catherine K. Ettman and Sandro Galea
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Salma M. Abdalla: Boston University School of Public Health
Nason Maani: Boston University School of Public Health
Catherine K. Ettman: Boston University School of Public Health
Sandro Galea: Boston University School of Public Health

Development, 2020, vol. 63, issue 2, 200-204

Abstract: Abstract The global response to COVID-19 has been uneven and disappointing in the vast majority of countries. The United States has borne the largest absolute burden of disease globally, as COVID-19 exploited pre-existing poor population health among Americans to spread rapidly, with devastating consequences. Why does the country that spends the most on healthcare in the world have one of the worst responses to COVID-19? We argue that this is because the United States conception of health is predominantly focused on healthcare, an overwhelming investment in developing drugs and treatments, and an underinvestment in the foundational conditions that keep people healthy. COVID-19 has exposed the limits of this approach to health. In order to prevent COVID-19 and future such pandemics, we must create the conditions that can keep population-level health threats at bay. This means addressing the conditions that shape health, including economics, employment, community networks, racial disparities, how we treat older adults, and the physical layout of our communities. To do so means acknowledging health as a public good, as a transnational project with countries working together to build a healthier world. It also means acknowledging that everyone has a right to health. These aspirations should become core to the global community’s health aspirations in the post-COVID-19 era.

Keywords: COVID-19; Public good; Social determinants of health; Global public health (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1057/s41301-020-00255-z

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