Health outcomes are tightly linked to social, economic, and political inequalities, both between and within countries. A social justice approach to global health demands frank recognition that health is often as much a problem of morality and politics as it is a problem of biomedical science and clinical practice. A social justice approach to health conceives the health of persons and populations as a public good, worth investing in for the benefit of all.
Social justice reflects therefore a commitment to equality, human rights and the dignity of every human being. Combined with the principle of solidarity, it commits people to practical care and concern for their neighbors, whether they live near or far across the world. Social justice in global health initiatives is important because of the determinant role played by developmental and social inequalities in keeping health outcomes depressed for vulnerable and marginalized groups around the world.
Social Justice in 3U Global Health is a cross-cutting research strand, in as much as all the research strands start from an implicit premise of the need to improve social justice in their area of interest (water management, HIV/infectious diseases, health systems, technology in health, and distance/blended learning).
The Social Justice group provides an arena for problematising the notion of global health in a conceptual basis for concrete interventions. It will thus endeavor to enlarge it by:
- Highlighting the link between, on the one hand, unequal development and social inequality, and, on the other hand, health outcomes and health care access, in diverse areas of intervention.
- Recognising that the problem is not only ‘underdevelopment’: it’s also simply ‘development’. Many African economies are growing (‘developing’), but they are doing so by magnifying social inequality within their countries. Where ‘development’ tracks neoliberal market imperatives, health as a public good often gets sidelined in favour of health as a market/ profit opportunity.
- Taking into account the new global mapping of health and healthcare inequalities, in which i) pockets of poverty coexist with pockets of wealth in both developed and developing countries, and ii) new actors and institutions, especially those associated with BRICs countries, are playing an increasing role in global health funding and policy;
- Acknowledging the increasing importance of transnational issues in global health, including healthcare personnel migration, patient migration, medical tourism, migrants’ transnational healthcare practices as well as the role of international organizations and transnational corporations in the transformation of healthcare systems around the world.
- In this perspective, the SJGH group brings a critical approach to the notion of global health, currently predicated on dichotomous divisions between developed and developing countries and on a methodological focus on community and national level interventions. This approach will aim to bring to the fore the dimensions of transnationality, uneven development, and reconfigured maps of global vulnerability and marginalization in both its theoretical perspectives and its methodological approaches.
New Funded Initiatives and Activities
- Disaster Bioethics: addressing ethical issues triggered by disasters Dónal O’Mathúna, (EU COST Action IS1201 funded 2012-2016)
- Transnational health practices of East-European migrants to Ireland Sabina Stan, (RCSG, RIA and SNHS funded project, 2009-2013)
- May 2015 – Bioethics and the Ebola Epidemic in West/Central Africa (2 day Workshop)