The metaphors of war have long been a part of public health.
We fight illness. Sometimes we beat disease and sometimes we lose the battle. We shore up and mobilize our immune defences.
For most of this year we have been in lock-down to protect ourselves from an invisible enemy and now we are looking for a magic-bullet, in the form of a vaccine, to save us.
The way we talk about health influences the choices that we make, both as individuals and in terms of public healthcare.
As long as we are at war with nature, and at war with our bodies we will frame our healthcare choices in terms of a war.
That choice means we never have to delve too deeply into the origins of illness. We don’t have to acknowledge the complexity of the socioeconomic factors that influence who is most vulnerable―and we can easily be controlled by the politics of fear.
As this week’s two-part essay reveals, it’s long past time for the public health dialogue to move beyond its out-dated words of war.
Let’s measure health in its broader context, according to the quality of our lives, the quality of our food and our environment and not according to narrow metrics of vaccine uptake.