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The Contagion Next Time$
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Sandro Galea

Print publication date: 2022

Print ISBN-13: 9780197576427

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197576427.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 January 2022

Health as a Public Good

Health as a Public Good

(p.154) 9 Health as a Public Good
The Contagion Next Time

Sandro Galea

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses how COVID-19 exposed the shortcomings in reducing poor health, shortcomings exacerbated by the treatment of health as a commodity rather than as a public good. One key reason for America's hesitance to embrace health as a public good is the overreliance on medicine. The truth is, we cannot buy health for ourselves; what we can buy is healthcare, and that can only help us after we are already sick. At the individual level, this approach means Americans will always be in danger of poor health. At the collective level, it means accepting a permanent reservoir of preventable disease and death within society, the presence of health haves and have nots, and, when crisis strikes, an overwhelmed healthcare system. Another reason is that engaging with health as a public good would inform Americans' understanding of their collective responsibility to each other. Ultimately, pursuing health as a public good means acknowledging health is a human right. There must be no degrees of privilege when it comes to accessing the conditions that support health.

Keywords:   COVID-19, poor health, public good, public health, America, healthcare, healthcare system, collective responsibility, human right

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