The Lancet - Offline: Prospects for a New World Order

3 January, 2020

I reproduce in full the last paragraph of Richard Horton's column in this week's print issue of The Lancet, and invite your thoughts. You can read the whole piece here: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(19)33180-0/fulltext

'2019 saw the radicalisation of a generation — Extinction Rebellion. Their message was direct: tell the truth, act now, and go beyond politics. I have never seen health workers so united in a cause—a cause to address a climate emergency. But global health has multiple causes, all with their own legitimate validities. Those who campaign for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health. Those who work to build a movement against non-communicable diseases. Those concerned with eliminating HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis. Those who see universal health coverage as the issue of our times. Those who see the dangers of new epidemics. Those who fight for the rights of migrants. Those who seek advances in gender equality. Medicine and global health are replete with causes. And these causes, inspiring though they are, divide us. They encourage a view that we live in a zero-sum world, a world where there are winners and losers. If we in health are to forge a new frontier of progress and progressivism against the narrow interests of individualism and nationalism, we surely have to find reasons to discover an equivalence between our respective causes. We have to find what is common between us. We do not have to relinquish our personal struggles. But we do have to find paths towards cooperation between our struggles. The political philosopher Chantal Mouffe has proposed “the radicalisation of democracy” through “a common will”. A common will between “the multiplicity of struggles against different forms of domination”—feminism, environmentalism, anti-racism, LGBTQI advocacy, to name but a few. What unites these resistances is opposition to the “philosophy of possessive individualism”. What these resistances have in common is a defence of equality and freedom together (and, I would add, solidarity). Medicine and global health can contribute substantively to this common will. We can help to construct a new people across nations, connecting groups with different demands through the radical idea of active citizenship. Health can be the field where this new frontier challenges the forces of regression in an Age of Entropy.'

CITATION: Comment| volume 395, issue 10217, p16, january 04, 2020

Offline: Prospects for a New World Order

Richard Horton

Published: January 04, 2020

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(19)33180-0

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Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org