This Year's Focus

Colliding crises: global health between war, security and human rights

This year’s summer school will explore how health, as a field of practice, of policy but most importantly as a human right is connected to violence, war and different security approaches. We will focus on ways in which both direct and structural violence affect our work as health professionals and political activists dedicated to Health For All. We will seek to understand how an intersectional perspective* on health and security may help us to deconstruct assumptions about “threats” and “risks” and find alternative solutions.

War and violent conflict cause injuries, traumatisation and death of thousands. During 2022, the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine has made this strikingly visible, with attacks on hospitals and maternity wards causing international outcries. Far away from the attention of Western politicians and media, the civil war in Ethiopia is claimed to be the most violent in the 21st century - 100.000 are reported to have died due to lack of medical attention. What are the effects of violent conflicts on the health of individuals and health systems? What are the gendered dimensions? Can the health sector build bridges to peace and dialogue amidst polarization and hatred?

Peace and well-being are conditions for health and vice-versa. Health can play an important role in achieving and sustaining peace. The question of prevention, mitigation and transformation of violent conflict is crucial to practitioners, academics and activists of global and public health, medicine and psychology. Through their analytical training, ethical standards of Do-no-harm and social recognition they can become peace-makers. However, they also stand in danger of becoming targets or even perpetrators of violence and repression.

During the summer school we will look at the effects of direct violence on health. We will also explore social determinants of health with a particular focus on gender discrimination and its intersections with other systems of oppression, such as racism. As a result of the subtler and often insidious effects of structural violence - i.e. Black people have died at 1.4 times the rate than white people during the Coronavirus pandemic in the US. The Russian war against Ukraine exacerbates one of the most severe global food crises in decades contributing to widespread starvation, premature deaths and poverty. This disproportionately affects women and girls, in war-torn countries such as Yemen and Afghanistan, but also migrants or female-headed households in Europe.

Where and how can we seek answers to these huge problems? What should we advocate and fight for? A starting point is to ask ourselves: what makes us (be) safe?
If we placed human rights and a feminist human security approach at the center of policy and practice, we might find answers.



* In this context we may use intersectionality both as a theoretical concept and an analytical tool to highlight the multifaceted power structures and processes that produce and sustain unequal (health) outcomes.Intersectionality considers the interdependencies and relations between categories such as gender (identity), race, class, sexuality etc. that lead to specific mechanisms and experiences of discrimination (or privilege) across multiple levels of society.

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