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Social justice ideas for addressing COVID-19

Updated: Apr 3, 2020

How can solutions be crafted which take into account the experiences of the most marginalized in our society?

The COVID-19 crisis has helped shed light on the disproportionate burden placed on some of the most vulnerable, including low-income groups and the homeless.

Our current system is failing many of these disadvantaged groups who find themselves cast aside to the margins. Extreme inequities prevail when considering metrics such as access to healthcare, housing security, and the efficacy of social welfare programs.

To re-dress this system, different approaches must be re-imagined in order to craft a socially just and conscious framework.

A Health Justice Approach emphasizes the need and right to equitable healthcare for all, in the context of addressing both downstream current COVID-19 concerns and the upstream social determinants contributing to vast disparities in the current crisis.

What do we mean by upstream social determinants contributing to vast disparities? Consider the intersections of poverty, race, and health. At these intersections, we can examine key interdisciplinary issues, notably housing, employment, disability, and more. We cannot examine the issues in a vacuum. Within our current system, at-risk groups are highly susceptible to other vulnerabilities. For example, communities of color are well-researched to be most vulnerable to poverty.

When these intersecting structural disparities exist, but the system is maintained - there is nothing stopping the cycle from continuing.

When low-income workers during the COVID-19 crisis are not afforded sick days or paid work from home, this can pose a burden on mental and emotional health. This is not to mention the long slew of other negative effects, ranging from struggles to allocate financial resources to cover health costs, and having to self-isolate in homes with health and safety hazards.

Public policy measures must improve to alleviate the severe financial, mental and emotional burden placed on vulnerable groups during this time. Welfare programs such as increased Medicaid funding must be implemented to help ensure that at-risk individuals are cared for. Moratoriums can be placed on eviction filings. These are just a few basic ideas within an extraordinarily long list of forms of assistance that if implemented, could begin to recognize the social justice inequities inherent in the current crisis.


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