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Back to Normal? Social Justice and the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease in the COVID Era

Interdisciplinary webinar organized in co-operation with the International Society for Developmental Origins of Health and Disease

Although the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, many countries are resuming economic and social activities, with the aim of returning to some semblance of ‘normality’. But what should the ‘new normal’ be? The pandemic has exposed how the status quo produced uneven vulnerability to COVID-19, with the most disadvantaged groups bearing the greatest health, social, and economic burden. Adverse effects are often associated with ‘pre-existing’ conditions, many of which have roots in underlying social inequalities. Members of disadvantaged groups also tend to be more exposed to greater risk of infection (as opposed to having greater ‘inherent’ risk of adverse effects). The current health crisis has thus put a spotlight on how social structures like racism or socioeconomic deprivation become embodied, shaping health and disease throughout the life course and across generations.

Priorities in the short term have been on saving life and restarting economies. But the current situation also highlights how social justice is fundamental for greater health equity and for improving social resilience to current and future global health threats. Insights from the field of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) show how early life conditions affect longer-term health risks and can perpetuate health inequalities across generations, indicating a need to channel resources also towards maternal, neonatal and child health (MNCH) as part of COVID-19 recovery plans. This is especially critical as public health responses to COVID-19 have exposed many marginalized communities, and especially women and children, to adverse conditions, such as reduced access to health services including safe abortions, regular meals, and places to escape from domestic violence and abuse.

Insights from previous socioeconomic shocks indicate the long-term social, economic, and health costs of such adverse conditions to MNCH. While DOHaD advocates have so-far largely foregrounded economic arguments for investing in MNCH in the COVID-19 era, in this webinar we will focus on social justice arguments and possible ways to address health and social inequalities. Particularly, we seek to put critical social science analyses into conversation with DOHaD research. Contributions to the webinar may include responses to questions such as:

  • What are the major ways in which social injustice affects MNCH in the COVID-19 era?
  • Based on existing insights from the social sciences and DOHaD, what opportunities could be explored to address these social injustices affecting MNCH in the ‘new normal’?
  • How can we use these opportunities to develop sustainable, affordable solutions that center social justice and health equity in various sectors (e.g. policy, clinical, public engagement, research) and improve social resilience to current and future global health threats?

 

Speakers

  • Martha Kenney (San Francisco State University): Back to normal? Social justice and recovery from C-19
  • Tessa Roseboom (University of Amsterdam): Social justice and the rights of children as foundations to build back better
  • Sarah Richardson (Harvard University): C-19, gender, and social justice
  • Shane Norris (University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg): What if the unthinkable happened? Global health and justice perspectives during the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Comment by Clarissa Prazeres da Costa (Technical University of Munich)

 

Organizers

  • Mark Hanson (University of Southampton, UK)
  • Chandni Jacob (University of Southampton)
  • Ruth Müller (Technical University of Munich)
  • Michael Penkler (Technical University of Munich)

 

Find the poster here: Flyer Back To Normal.

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