Center for World Indigenous Studies
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Social Justice- A Matter of Life and Death

Published: August 30, 2008, Author: MHirch

“Social injustice is killing people on a grand scale,” acknowledges a World Health Organization (WHO) report just issued. The study is entitled “Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity through Action on the Social Determinants of Health.”
“The toxic combination of bad policies, economics, and politics is, in large measure, responsible for the fact that a majority of people in the world do not enjoy the good health that is biologically possible,” the report notes.

The political report also highlights some glaring inequalities concerning indigenous peoples’ health. An indigenous Australian male has a life expectancy that is 17 years shorter than all other men in Australia.

The study finally emphasizes that “Inequity in the conditions of daily lives is shaped by deeper social structures and processes; the inequity is systematic, produced by policies that tolerate or actually enforce unfair distribution of and access to power, wealth, and other necessary social resources.”

This reminds me of famous nineteenth century German pathologist, Rudolf Virchow, who in 1848, published a report on the typhus epidemic in Upper Silesia, a poverty-stricken region of Germany in which he said, “Medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing more than medicine practiced on a larger stage.”

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

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