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Social Capital and Health

Research Findings and Questions on a Modern Public Health Perspective

Ota de Leonardis

This article aims at contributing to the discussion on the features of public health systems consistent with the broader definition of health – broader than the strictly bio-medical one – which is currently accepted in the related literature. The questions it raises are on how social capital influences well-being, and on whether and how it can be recognized and cultivated as a basic resource for health, and integrated into the health systems. In the first part, research literature on the ways health conditions are correlated with both poverty and social capital is briefly discussed. In the second part, several cases on health prevention and rehabilitation programs are analysed in some detail, as they appear to improve the health conditions of a community by investing in its 'social capital'. The main insights are on how to combine social protection with individual agency.

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Robin Oakley

The constitution, the law of the land of the modern state, is fertile ground for the Eurocentric imagination of the Canadian polity as a result of the resiliency of Victorian-era sentiments. The ethno-racial hierarchy contained within this political imagery merges well with the public health mandate process of 'othering'. Othering situates the causes of disease and illness in foreign bodies rather than in the social structures of industrial capitalism. Chief among its morbid symptoms, othering produces a sense of alienation in those subjected to it. Sri Lankan Tamils are one of the newer migrant populations who have been subjected to, and have resisted this intrinsically violent othering process. This article examines the Canadian constitution as it relates to ethno-racial classification, and then explores how this scheme is reproduced in common experiences of the public health system and its effects on the health and well-being of Canadian Tamils.

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Austerity in Africa

Audit cultures and the weakening of public sector health systems

James Pfeiffer

Abstract

Austerity across Africa has been operationalized through World Bank and IMF structural adjustment programs since the 1980s, later rebranded euphemistically as poverty reduction strategies in the late 1990s. Austerity's constraints on public spending led donors to a “civil society” focus in which NGOs would fill gaps in basic social services created by public sector contraction. One consequence was large-scale redirection of growing foreign aid flows away from public services to international NGOs. Austerity in Africa coincides with the emergence of what some anthropologists call “audit cultures” among donors. Extraordinary data collection infrastructures are demanded from recipient organizations in the name of transparency. However, the Mozambique experience described here reveals that these intensive audit cultures serve to obscure the destructive effects of NGO proliferation on public health systems.

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'Fire from Above, Fire from Below'

Health, Justice and the Persistence of the Sacred

James R. Cochrane

The essay refers to a concern for social justice in the origins of public health, borne in part by religious commitments, and to more recent expressions of a similar concern in debates about health equity. Equity, moreover, is affected by discursive power relations (dominant/hegemonic versus local/suppressed), which are discussed in relation to current research in the African Religious Health Assets Programme on the interaction of particular 'healthworlds' (a conceptual innovation) that shape the choices and behaviour of health-seekers. Two background theoretical positions guide the argument: Amartya Sen's claim that development is linked to freedom (including religious freedom); and, building on Sen's and Martha Nussbaum's human capabilities theory, an asset-based community approach to the building or reconstruction of public health systems. On this basis, it is argued that health systems and health interventions are just to the extent that they mediate between the necessary leadership or polity from 'above' (techné) and the experience and wisdom (métis) of those who are 'below', taking into account the asymmetries of power that this equation represents. Because difference and diversity are so often expressed in what we might reasonably call 'religious' terms, I specifically emphasize the continuing persistence of religion and, hence, the importance of accounting for its pertinence in social theory generally, and in relation to discourses of health and justice in the African context specifically. Acknowledging the ambiguities of religion, I nevertheless argue that an appreciative alignment between public health systems and religious or faith-based initiatives in health promotion, prevention and care is crucial to sustainable and just health systems in Africa.

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Bayla Ostrach

). Anyone residing in Catalunya may seek healthcare through the public health system. All residents empadronados (registered) at their local town hall may obtain a health card and use public health services. Following the 2010 liberalisation of abortion

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Public Health in Eastern Europe

Visible Modernization and Elusive Gender Transformation

Evguenia Davidova

modernizing the public health system produced ambiguous effects. Each one of the four chapters in this section sheds light on the expected and unexpected impact of modernizing rhythms, deriving from the political center, on diverse peripheries and on the

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Echoes of austerity

Policy, temporality, and public health in South Africa

Theodore Powers

was held at a hospital located just down the road from Community House. The group was convening at Groote Schuur Hospital, a tertiary level institution in the South African public health system, meaning that it offers specialized and super

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Pandemic Passages

An Anthropological Account of Life and Liminality during COVID-19

Genevieve Bell

2020b ). The logic behind the stay-at-home orders was two-fold: slow the rates of transmission and create time for the public health system to get ready. There were four categories of exceptions to the stay-at-home mandate: health care, shopping for

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Michael Miller, Paul V. Dutton, and Laura Hobson Faure

welfare state. La Santé en guerre makes a precious contribution to our understanding of the First World War and welfare-state formation, especially France’s health care and public health systems. Lisa Moses Leff, The Archive Thief: The Man Who Salvaged

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Latin America

A challenging prospect for regionalism

Ernesto Vivares

the case of Ecuador, it deeply increased the social vulnerability as the public health system suffered significant cuts in its financing, as Figure 1 shows. The Ecuadorian situation and battle in October 2019 would show the limitation of the