Social Murder & Covid-19
The concept of social murder was introduced in the mid-19th century. The German philosopher Friedrich Engels coined the phrase in describing the political and social power held by ruling elites over laborers in England. Engels wrote about poor workers dying prematurely. Today, during the current pandemic, the term has been revived. The British Medical Journal says, “Social murder may describe the lack of political attention to social determinants and inequities that exacerbate the pandemic.” Enormous discrepancies in income and wealth have huge health consequences. Failure to address them has no doubt contributed to the global death toll from the pandemic which now exceeds 5 million. The actual number must be much higher. The economic and class realities exposed and magnified by Covid-19 cannot be ignored or spun away. The need for a system that is equitable has never been more apparent.
Dr. Stephen Bezruchka is on the faculty of the Department of Health Systems and Population Health at the University of Washington. He worked for many years as an emergency physician in Seattle. He worked in Nepal for more than a decade where he helped set up a community health project a week’s walk from the road. He also established a remote district hospital for training Nepali doctors whom he supervised. He is the author of Inequality Kills Us All: COVID-19’s Health Lessons for the World.