Informed, engaged communities for health

Search
Generic filters
Filter by Categories
@WePublicHealth2021
#CroakeyLIVE #Budget2021Health
#MHReform
#OutOfTheBox
#QldVotesHealth
#RCIADIC30Years
#RuralHealthJustice
#TRIPSwaiver
2021 Floods
Budget2020Health
Bushfires
Co-design
community control
COVID-19
Croakey Conference News Service
#16nrhc
#2020ResearchExcellence
#21OPCC
#BackToTheFire
#FoodGovernance2021
#GiantSteps21
#Govern4Health
#GreenHealthForum21
#GreenHealthForum22
#Heal2022
#HealthClimateSolutions21
#HealthReImagined
#HearMe21
#ICEM22
#IndigenousClimateJustice21
#NAISA22
#NNF2021
#NNF2022
#RANZCP2021
#RANZCP2022
#RethinkAddiction
#RTP22
#SAHeapsUnfair
#ShiftingGearsSummit
#ValueBasedCare
#WCepi2021
#YHFSummit
Choosing Wisely National Meeting 2022
Equally Well 2022 Symposium
GiantSteps22
Croakey Professional Services
#CommunityControl
#COVIDthinktank21
#KidneyCareTogether
ACSQHC series
ACSQHC series 2019
ACSQHC series 2020
ACSQHC series 2021
ACSQHC series 2022
CATSINaM 25 Years
Lowitja Indigenous knowledge translation series
NHLF series
Croakey projects
@WePublicHealth
@WePublicHealth2020
@WePublicHealth2022
#CommunityMatters
#CoveringClimateNow
#CroakeyFundingDrive 2022
#CroakeyLIVE #USvotesHealth
#CroakeyREAD
#CroakeyVOICES
#CroakeyYOUTH
#HealthyCOP26
#HealthyCOP27
#HousingJusticeAus
#JusticeCOVID
#LookingLocal
#MRFFtransparency
#OutOfPocket
#PHAAThinkTank 2022
#SpeakingOurMinds
#TalkingTeeth
#WorldInTurmoil
AroundTheTraps
Caring for the Frontline
COVID SNAPS
COVIDglobalMHseries
Croakey longreads
CroakeyEXPLORE
Gavin Mooney
ICYMI
Inside Story
Journal Watch
Summer Reading 2019-2020
The Conversation
The Health Wrap
TOO MUCH of a Good Thing
CroakeyGO
#CroakeyGO #NavigatingHealth
#GamblingHarms
#HeatwaveHealth
Mapping CroakeyGo
CroakeyNews
Cultural determinants of health
Digital platforms
Donor-funded journalism
Donor-funded journalism – 2020
Donor-funded journalism – 2021
Donor-funded journalism – 2022
Elections and budgets
Federal Budget 2019-20
Federal Budget 2020-21
Federal Budget 2022-23
Federal Budget October 2022
Federal Election 2022
SA election 2022
The Election Wrap (2022)
Victorian election 2022
Federal Budget 2021-22
Global health and climate change
2019-20 climate bushfire emergency
asylum seeker and refugee health
Climate emergency
disasters
Ebola
extreme weather events
flooding 2011
Flooding 2022
Global health
NHS
NSW 2022
NZ Election 2017
WHO
health
Healthcare and health reform
abortion
adverse events
Aged care
Allied healthcare
Australian Medical Association
cancer
cardiovascular disease
child health
Choosing Wisely
Chronic conditions
co-payments
Cochrane Collaboration
complementary medicines
conflicts of interest
death and dying
diabetes
digital technology
disabilities
e-health
emergency departments and care
Equally Well
euthanasia
evidence-based issues
general practice
genetics
health & medical marketing
Health and aged care workforces
health and medical education
health and medical research
Health Care Homes
health ethics
health financing and costs
Health reform
health regulation
HIV/AIDS
hospitals
HRT
infectious diseases
influenza
international medical graduates
journal articles
LGBTIQ
medical marijuana
Medicare Locals
men's health
Mental health
MyHospitals website
National Commission of Audit 2014
National Health Performance Authority
naturopathy
NDIS
NHMRC
non communicable diseases
Nursing and midwifery
oral health
organ transplants
out of pocket costs
pain
palliative care
paramedics
pathology
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
pharmaceutical industry
pharmacy
Pregnancy and childbirth
Primary Health Networks
Primary healthcare
private health insurance
Rural and remote health
Safety and quality of healthcare
screening
sexual health
Social media and healthcare
Strengthening Medicare Taskforce 2022
suicide
surgery
swine flu
telehealth
tests
TGA
trauma
women's health
youth health
Indigenous health
#CTG10
#NTRC
Acknowledgement
cultural safety
Indigenous education
Lowitja Institute
NT Intervention
social and emotional wellbeing
Uluru Statement
WA community closures
News about Croakey
Public health and population health
#PreventiveHealthStrategy
#UnmetNeedsinPublicHealth
air pollution
alcohol
consumer health matters
COVIDwrap
environmental health
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
food and nutrition
gambling
Government 2.0
gun control
health communications
health impact assessment
Health in All Policies
Health inequalities
health literacy
human rights
illicit drugs
injuries
legal issues
marriage equality
Media Doctor Australia
media-related issues
Monkeypox
nanny state
National Preventive Health Agency
obesity
occupational health
physical activity
plain packaging
prevention
Public health
Public interest journalism
road safety
sport
sugar tax
tobacco control
transport
vaccination
violence
Web 2.0
weight loss products
Royal Commission
Social determinants of health
commercial determinants of health
discrimination
education
Housing
justice
Justice Reinvestment
NBN
Newstart/JobSeeker
poverty
Racism
social policy
Summer reading 2020-2021
Summer reading 2021-2022
Tasmanian election 2021
The Croakey Archives
#cripcroakey
#HealthEquity16
#HealthMatters
#IHMayDay (all years)
#IHMayDay 2014
#IHMayDay15
#IHMayday16
#IHMayDay17
#IHMayDay18
#LoveRural 2014
Croakey Conference News Service 2013 – 2019
2013 conferences
Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation Forum 2013
Australian Health Promotion Association Conference 2013
Closing the Credibility Gap 2013
CRANAplus Conference 2013
FASD Conference 2013
Health Workforce Australia 2013
International Health Literacy Network Conference 2013
NACCHO Summit 2013
National Rural Health Conference 2013
Oceania EcoHealth Symposium 2013
PHAA conference 2013
2014 conferences
#IPCHIV14
AIDA Conference 2014
Congress Lowitja 2014
CRANAplus conference 2014
Cultural Solutions - Healing Foundation forum 2014
Lowitja Institute Continuous Quality Improvement conference 2014
National Suicide Prevention Conference 2014
Racism and children/youth health symposium 2014
Rural & Remote Health Scientific Symposium 2014
2015 conferences
#CPHCEforum
#CRANAplus15
#HSR15
#NRHC15
#OTCC15
Population Health Congress 2015
2016 conferences
#AHHAsim16
#AHMRC16
#ANROWS2016
#ATSISPEP
#AusCanIndigenousWellness
#cphce2016
#CPHCEforum16
#CRANAplus2016
#IAMRA2016
#LowitjaConf2016
#PreventObesity16
#TowardsRecovery
#VMIAC16
#WearablesCEH
#WICC2016
2017 conferences
#17APCC
#ACEM17
#AIDAconf2017
#BTH20
#CATSINaM17
#ClimateHealthStrategy
#IAHAConf17
#IDS17
#LBQWHC17
#LivingOurWay
#OKtoAskAu
#OTCC2017
#ResearchTranslation17
#TheMHS2017
#VMIACConf17
#WCPH2017
Australian Palliative Care Conference
2018 conferences
#6rrhss
#ACEM18
#AHPA2018
#ATSISPC18
#CPHCE
#MHED18
#NDISMentalHealth
#Nurseforce
#OKToAsk2018
#RANZCOG18
#ResearchIntoPolicy
#VHAawards
#VMIACAwards18
#WISPC18
2019 Conferences
#ACEM19
#CPHCE19
#EquallyWellAust
#GiantSteps19
#HealthAdvocacyWIM
#KTthatWorks
#LowitjaConf2019
#MHAgeing
#NNF2019
#OKtoAsk2019
#RANZCOG19
#RANZCP2019
#ruralhealthconf
#VMIAC2019
#WHOcollabAHPRA
Croakey Professional Services archive
#CommunityControl Twitter Festival
Croakey projects archive
#IndigenousHealthSummit
#IndigenousNCDs
#JustClimate
#JustJustice
Croakey register of influence
Croakey Register of Influencers in Public Health
Croakey Register of Unreleased Documents
Naked Doctor
Poems of Public Health
Summer Reading 2016-2017
Summer Reading 2017-2018
The Koori Woman
Wonky Health
CroakeyGO archive 2017 – 2018
CroakeyGo 2017
#CroakeyGO Adelaide 2017
#CroakeyGO Melbourne 2017
#CroakeyGO Newcastle 2017
#CroakeyGO Sydney 2017
CroakeyGo 2018
#CroakeyGO #QuantumWords 2018
#CroakeyGO #VicVotes 2018
#CroakeyGO Albury 2018
#CroakeyGO Callan Park 2018
#CroakeyGO Carnarvon 2018
#CroakeyGO Marrickville 2018
#CroakeyGO Palm Island 2018
Elections and Budgets 2013 – 2019
#AusVotesHealth Twitter Festival 2019
#Health4NSW
#HealthElection16
Federal Budget 2009-2010
Federal Budget 2010
Federal Budget 2011
Federal Budget 2012-2013
Federal Budget 2013-14
Federal Budget 2014-15
Federal Budget 2015-16
Federal Budget 2016-17
Federal Budget 2017/18
Federal Budget 2018-19
Federal Election 2010
Federal Election 2013
Federal Election 2016
Federal Election 2019
NSW Election 2015
NSW Election 2019
NT Election 2016
Qld Election 2015
Victorian Election 2014
WA election 2021
Support non-profit public interest journalism
Search
Generic filters
Filter by Categories
@WePublicHealth2021
#CroakeyLIVE #Budget2021Health
#MHReform
#OutOfTheBox
#QldVotesHealth
#RCIADIC30Years
#RuralHealthJustice
#TRIPSwaiver
2021 Floods
Budget2020Health
Bushfires
Co-design
community control
COVID-19
Croakey Conference News Service
#16nrhc
#2020ResearchExcellence
#21OPCC
#BackToTheFire
#FoodGovernance2021
#GiantSteps21
#Govern4Health
#GreenHealthForum21
#GreenHealthForum22
#Heal2022
#HealthClimateSolutions21
#HealthReImagined
#HearMe21
#ICEM22
#IndigenousClimateJustice21
#NAISA22
#NNF2021
#NNF2022
#RANZCP2021
#RANZCP2022
#RethinkAddiction
#RTP22
#SAHeapsUnfair
#ShiftingGearsSummit
#ValueBasedCare
#WCepi2021
#YHFSummit
Choosing Wisely National Meeting 2022
Equally Well 2022 Symposium
GiantSteps22
Croakey Professional Services
#CommunityControl
#COVIDthinktank21
#KidneyCareTogether
ACSQHC series
ACSQHC series 2019
ACSQHC series 2020
ACSQHC series 2021
ACSQHC series 2022
CATSINaM 25 Years
Lowitja Indigenous knowledge translation series
NHLF series
Croakey projects
@WePublicHealth
@WePublicHealth2020
@WePublicHealth2022
#CommunityMatters
#CoveringClimateNow
#CroakeyFundingDrive 2022
#CroakeyLIVE #USvotesHealth
#CroakeyREAD
#CroakeyVOICES
#CroakeyYOUTH
#HealthyCOP26
#HealthyCOP27
#HousingJusticeAus
#JusticeCOVID
#LookingLocal
#MRFFtransparency
#OutOfPocket
#PHAAThinkTank 2022
#SpeakingOurMinds
#TalkingTeeth
#WorldInTurmoil
AroundTheTraps
Caring for the Frontline
COVID SNAPS
COVIDglobalMHseries
Croakey longreads
CroakeyEXPLORE
Gavin Mooney
ICYMI
Inside Story
Journal Watch
Summer Reading 2019-2020
The Conversation
The Health Wrap
TOO MUCH of a Good Thing
CroakeyGO
#CroakeyGO #NavigatingHealth
#GamblingHarms
#HeatwaveHealth
Mapping CroakeyGo
CroakeyNews
Cultural determinants of health
Digital platforms
Donor-funded journalism
Donor-funded journalism – 2020
Donor-funded journalism – 2021
Donor-funded journalism – 2022
Elections and budgets
Federal Budget 2019-20
Federal Budget 2020-21
Federal Budget 2022-23
Federal Budget October 2022
Federal Election 2022
SA election 2022
The Election Wrap (2022)
Victorian election 2022
Federal Budget 2021-22
Global health and climate change
2019-20 climate bushfire emergency
asylum seeker and refugee health
Climate emergency
disasters
Ebola
extreme weather events
flooding 2011
Flooding 2022
Global health
NHS
NSW 2022
NZ Election 2017
WHO
health
Healthcare and health reform
abortion
adverse events
Aged care
Allied healthcare
Australian Medical Association
cancer
cardiovascular disease
child health
Choosing Wisely
Chronic conditions
co-payments
Cochrane Collaboration
complementary medicines
conflicts of interest
death and dying
diabetes
digital technology
disabilities
e-health
emergency departments and care
Equally Well
euthanasia
evidence-based issues
general practice
genetics
health & medical marketing
Health and aged care workforces
health and medical education
health and medical research
Health Care Homes
health ethics
health financing and costs
Health reform
health regulation
HIV/AIDS
hospitals
HRT
infectious diseases
influenza
international medical graduates
journal articles
LGBTIQ
medical marijuana
Medicare Locals
men's health
Mental health
MyHospitals website
National Commission of Audit 2014
National Health Performance Authority
naturopathy
NDIS
NHMRC
non communicable diseases
Nursing and midwifery
oral health
organ transplants
out of pocket costs
pain
palliative care
paramedics
pathology
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
pharmaceutical industry
pharmacy
Pregnancy and childbirth
Primary Health Networks
Primary healthcare
private health insurance
Rural and remote health
Safety and quality of healthcare
screening
sexual health
Social media and healthcare
Strengthening Medicare Taskforce 2022
suicide
surgery
swine flu
telehealth
tests
TGA
trauma
women's health
youth health
Indigenous health
#CTG10
#NTRC
Acknowledgement
cultural safety
Indigenous education
Lowitja Institute
NT Intervention
social and emotional wellbeing
Uluru Statement
WA community closures
News about Croakey
Public health and population health
#PreventiveHealthStrategy
#UnmetNeedsinPublicHealth
air pollution
alcohol
consumer health matters
COVIDwrap
environmental health
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
food and nutrition
gambling
Government 2.0
gun control
health communications
health impact assessment
Health in All Policies
Health inequalities
health literacy
human rights
illicit drugs
injuries
legal issues
marriage equality
Media Doctor Australia
media-related issues
Monkeypox
nanny state
National Preventive Health Agency
obesity
occupational health
physical activity
plain packaging
prevention
Public health
Public interest journalism
road safety
sport
sugar tax
tobacco control
transport
vaccination
violence
Web 2.0
weight loss products
Royal Commission
Social determinants of health
commercial determinants of health
discrimination
education
Housing
justice
Justice Reinvestment
NBN
Newstart/JobSeeker
poverty
Racism
social policy
Summer reading 2020-2021
Summer reading 2021-2022
Tasmanian election 2021
The Croakey Archives
#cripcroakey
#HealthEquity16
#HealthMatters
#IHMayDay (all years)
#IHMayDay 2014
#IHMayDay15
#IHMayday16
#IHMayDay17
#IHMayDay18
#LoveRural 2014
Croakey Conference News Service 2013 – 2019
2013 conferences
Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation Forum 2013
Australian Health Promotion Association Conference 2013
Closing the Credibility Gap 2013
CRANAplus Conference 2013
FASD Conference 2013
Health Workforce Australia 2013
International Health Literacy Network Conference 2013
NACCHO Summit 2013
National Rural Health Conference 2013
Oceania EcoHealth Symposium 2013
PHAA conference 2013
2014 conferences
#IPCHIV14
AIDA Conference 2014
Congress Lowitja 2014
CRANAplus conference 2014
Cultural Solutions - Healing Foundation forum 2014
Lowitja Institute Continuous Quality Improvement conference 2014
National Suicide Prevention Conference 2014
Racism and children/youth health symposium 2014
Rural & Remote Health Scientific Symposium 2014
2015 conferences
#CPHCEforum
#CRANAplus15
#HSR15
#NRHC15
#OTCC15
Population Health Congress 2015
2016 conferences
#AHHAsim16
#AHMRC16
#ANROWS2016
#ATSISPEP
#AusCanIndigenousWellness
#cphce2016
#CPHCEforum16
#CRANAplus2016
#IAMRA2016
#LowitjaConf2016
#PreventObesity16
#TowardsRecovery
#VMIAC16
#WearablesCEH
#WICC2016
2017 conferences
#17APCC
#ACEM17
#AIDAconf2017
#BTH20
#CATSINaM17
#ClimateHealthStrategy
#IAHAConf17
#IDS17
#LBQWHC17
#LivingOurWay
#OKtoAskAu
#OTCC2017
#ResearchTranslation17
#TheMHS2017
#VMIACConf17
#WCPH2017
Australian Palliative Care Conference
2018 conferences
#6rrhss
#ACEM18
#AHPA2018
#ATSISPC18
#CPHCE
#MHED18
#NDISMentalHealth
#Nurseforce
#OKToAsk2018
#RANZCOG18
#ResearchIntoPolicy
#VHAawards
#VMIACAwards18
#WISPC18
2019 Conferences
#ACEM19
#CPHCE19
#EquallyWellAust
#GiantSteps19
#HealthAdvocacyWIM
#KTthatWorks
#LowitjaConf2019
#MHAgeing
#NNF2019
#OKtoAsk2019
#RANZCOG19
#RANZCP2019
#ruralhealthconf
#VMIAC2019
#WHOcollabAHPRA
Croakey Professional Services archive
#CommunityControl Twitter Festival
Croakey projects archive
#IndigenousHealthSummit
#IndigenousNCDs
#JustClimate
#JustJustice
Croakey register of influence
Croakey Register of Influencers in Public Health
Croakey Register of Unreleased Documents
Naked Doctor
Poems of Public Health
Summer Reading 2016-2017
Summer Reading 2017-2018
The Koori Woman
Wonky Health
CroakeyGO archive 2017 – 2018
CroakeyGo 2017
#CroakeyGO Adelaide 2017
#CroakeyGO Melbourne 2017
#CroakeyGO Newcastle 2017
#CroakeyGO Sydney 2017
CroakeyGo 2018
#CroakeyGO #QuantumWords 2018
#CroakeyGO #VicVotes 2018
#CroakeyGO Albury 2018
#CroakeyGO Callan Park 2018
#CroakeyGO Carnarvon 2018
#CroakeyGO Marrickville 2018
#CroakeyGO Palm Island 2018
Elections and Budgets 2013 – 2019
#AusVotesHealth Twitter Festival 2019
#Health4NSW
#HealthElection16
Federal Budget 2009-2010
Federal Budget 2010
Federal Budget 2011
Federal Budget 2012-2013
Federal Budget 2013-14
Federal Budget 2014-15
Federal Budget 2015-16
Federal Budget 2016-17
Federal Budget 2017/18
Federal Budget 2018-19
Federal Election 2010
Federal Election 2013
Federal Election 2016
Federal Election 2019
NSW Election 2015
NSW Election 2019
NT Election 2016
Qld Election 2015
Victorian Election 2014
WA election 2021

New COVID policy advice released, plus some critical lessons from the “pandemicene”

Introduction by Croakey: The World Health Organization has released six policy briefs to support national and global efforts to end the COVID emergency worldwide. They include recommendations on testing, clinical management, community engagement and communications.

Releasing the briefs, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said they are an urgent call for governments to take a hard look at their policies, and strengthen them for COVID-19 and future pathogens with pandemic potential.

He said the number of weekly reported deaths from COVID-19 last week around the world was the lowest since March 2020. “We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We are not there yet, but the end is in sight,” he told a media briefing.

“A marathon runner does not stop when the finish line comes into view. She runs harder, with all the energy she has left. So must we. We can see the finish line. We’re in a winning position. But now is the worst time to stop running.

“Now is the time to run harder and make sure we cross the line and reap the rewards of all our hard work. If we don’t take this opportunity now, we run the risk of more variants, more deaths, more disruption and more uncertainty.”

Amongst other recommendations, the briefs urge governments to communicate clearly with communities about any changes to COVID policies – a timely prompt for Australian governments given ongoing concerns about lack of transparency around National Cabinet decisions – and to train health workers to identify and address misinformation.

Meanwhile, Croakey editor Dr Amy Coopes reports below on some related discussions about lessons from the “pandemicene”.


Amy Coopes writes:

Disinformation, political self-interest and social division have had a chilling effect on global efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, with evidence trumped by expedience in a cycle of “panic and neglect” at a time when climate-driven cascading disease outbreaks demand healthier policy making.

These were among the issues raised during a wide-ranging discussion between Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist Ed Yong and renowned epidemiologist Professor Raina MacIntyre at the recent Antidote festival, held at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday.

The one-day event featured an array of eminent speakers including actors, musicians and politicians, with talks pondering the big questions as the world emerges from SARS-CoV-2 shutdown. The novel respiratory virus has surpassed 600 million infections globally, and claimed some 6.5 million lives.

In a session titled Welcome to the Pandemicene – a neologism Yong said he coined to capture what was shaping up to be a critical era in modern human history for new and resurgent infectious diseases – some of the pearls and pitfalls from the world’s COVID-19 response came under scrutiny.

Yong won journalism’s highest prize for his much-lauded coverage of the pandemic at The Atlantic, while MacIntyre, who is head of global biosecurity at the Kirby Institute, has been among the most outspoken critics of Australia’s COVID response, particularly on the importance of vaccines-plus strategies, including masking and ventilation.

The pair offered frank assessments of how the world had handled the pandemic, which is now in its third year, providing numerous timely insights on the social, longitudinal and political dimensions of a crisis Yong warned was just a taste of what was to come in the so-called ‘pandemicene’.

“it’s been clear for a while that we, the world, were going to be beset by new and re-emerging infectious diseases in a very regular drumbeat,” Yong told the audience Sunday, dialing into the event from Washington DC.

“We’ve seen Ebola, Zika, various strains of flu, COVID, monkeypox is now sweeping the world. This is a thing we can and should continue to expect, and it’s going to get worse, not better.”

Yong said climate change would accelerate this process by driving species into new ecological niches, and into contact with other species they had not previously crossed paths with, creating new viral mixing opportunities and more chances for human spillover events.

“This has already been going on for some time, we are sort of at the peak moment of this right now, these current decades that we are living through,” he added.  “And it’s the case that even if we cease all greenhouse emissions tomorrow that process is going to continue steamrolling on into the future. So we do need to grapple with this new reality we are living in.”

While COVID had offered up plenty of lessons for future pandemics – many of which Yong described as things we already knew but had failed to heed – he said he was not optimistic about things being done differently next time around, given recent experiences.

Looking upstream

The central problem when it came to the pandemic had been its framing, and the secondment of the science to values propositions and political imperatives, Yong said.

Disease outbreaks had long been understood as social phenomena, but scientific and technological advances had seen an ascendant biomedical paradigm focused on treatments and vaccines which – while obviously important – had obscured the role of upstream, population-level determinants likely poverty, education and insecure work, Yong said.

He pointed to the US as a textbook example, noting that despite being widely regarded as number one in the world in terms of preparedness prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, it had suffered “arguably the worst outbreak in the industrialised world” with more than one million deaths.

Yong attributed this to “incredibly weak” social infrastructure and low levels of trust,  both between citizens and of government by the populace. He said COVID had exposed the US healthcare system as extremely vulnerable and “very easily overrun”, along with an ailing social safety net which left many with “no choice but to sacrifice their lives or risk their health in order to protect their livelihoods”.

“There is this constant underlying vulnerability that occurs when your social fabric is threadbare and frayed,” Yong said.

He described the pandemic response as paroxysmal, characterised by cycles of panic and neglect, driven in large measure by the media, who Yong said had a “complete wrong-headed approach” to coverage, which required grappling with longitudinal, cumulative costs and ethical considerations.

The media had failed to apprehend and convey that COVID was a long-term problem that would require protracted public health measures, and that the need for collective action greatly outstripped calculations of individual risk.

“The problem with the pandemic and many of these diseases is that the risk at the societal level is always considerably greater than the risk at the individual level,” Yong said.

“When you get infected and pass the virus on to other people you can create chains of infection that do things like slam the healthcare system, that lead to disability because people develop things like long COVID. Your individual risk is always going to be lower than your contribution to society as a whole, so we have to think about this collectively and we have to treat these as collective problems. And I think, in the main, we have not.”

Disinformation, profit and power

Disinformation and the co-opting of COVID-19 into broader social movements utilising “information warfare” had been a sobering lesson, MacIntyre told the audience, describing it as the latest chapter in a sorry history of the bastardisation of science for corporate and political gain, as with tobacco and fossil fuel interests.

MacIntyre, who has been subject to intense and targeted ad hominem attacks online for her advocacy and commentary regarding ‘vaccines-plus’ measures such as clean indoor air and the ongoing use of masks, said the pandemic had seen disinformation peddled at all levels, from social media punters through to scientists and world leaders.

“Often these are orchestrated attempts to create a narrative or achieve a political outcome without the use of force,” she told the audience. “That’s the difficult part, trying to separate out who is actually speaking truth about science versus people who are just selling themselves for profit and power.”

Both corporate and state interests were involved in such campaigns, MacIntyre said, adding that “there are a lot of profound social changes happening as a result of disinformation”. The coalescence of far-right extremist groups and alternative lifestyle communities over opposition to vaccines was one such example, she said.

Professor Raina MacIntyre. Photo by Prudence Upton

Crisis of values

Yong said this illustrated a fundamental flaw in science and health communications, which is that it too often started from a deficit premise, seeing audiences as “empty vessels into which you pour knowledge, and that is how you change hearts and minds”.

“People process information according to their values, identities, cultural beliefs, and this is really important to understand,” he said. “To actually make progress you have to meet people where they are, you need to understand what’s at the root of their resistance to whatever you are trying to tell them.”

“You need to try and find shared cultural values, shared moments of identity.”

Rather than a crisis of facts, Yong said the pandemic had exposed a crisis of values, with individualistic framing of a collective problem “as much of a misinformation problem as a lot of the other things that typically fall under the banner”.

“And it’s a much harder thing to deal with because at its core it is not a science issue, it is an issue of our values and what we believe,” he said.

Yong went on:

Do we care about things like equality, do we care about the collective good? Do we care about protecting the vulnerable, the immunocompromised, the poor, people who are sick long-term?

Those are questions for society to grapple with ethically, and I think that is what we are sort of missing in this discussion.

Often the science is clear, but you could make very different decisions based on how you filter that science through the lens of your own values, and I think it’s the values piece that we need to get better at.”

The day after her Opera House appearance, MacIntyre tweeted that she had tested positive for COVID.

Overall, she gave Australia a 5/10 on its pandemic response, saying we had done well with shutting the borders and buying time to vaccinate the population to very high levels, but had dropped the ball on booster doses and health communication, particularly in culturally and linguistic communities where MacIntyre said disinformation had been allowed to take hold.

She said the pitfalls in Australia’s response included “the polarisation and politicisation of things that are just public health”.

MacIntyre said political and media messaging that the pandemic was over and it was back to business as usual had contributed to healthcare worker burnout when, “what they have to do and deal with is the opposite of the public narrative” and they faced “occupational hazards day in and day out.”

Yong echoed this, describing a mass exodus of generational knowledge and experience out of a “shredded” health care system that would reverberate for decades to come, with health care workers reeling from the trauma of three cumulative years of COVID surges interspersed with frantic efforts to address the mounting backlog of delayed and deferred care.

“We can’t do this business as usual thing as expect the health care system to pick up the slack,” he said.

“You’re not going to yoga your way out of the moral injury health care workers are facing,” added Yong. “The simple fact is a lot of them got into their job to help people, and the circumstances of the last three years – the political malfeasance, the poor responses from institutions, patients not getting vaccinated, patients being antagonistic – all of that means they cannot provide the level of care that they want to provide.”

Relying on doctors and nurses as the “frontline” to a pandemic was itself an admission of and pretext for failure, Yong said, calling for strengthening of community health, public health, prevention and the social safety net.

Under pressure

The pressure on healthcare workers and strain on a system that had been teetering on the brink before COVID-19 hit was explored at a separate Antidote session featuring Croakey editor Dr Amy Coopes, Fairfax alumnus-turned-psychiatry trainee Lisa Pryor, and physician-broadcaster Dr Norman Swan.

The crossover between journalism and medicine, particularly at the height of a global public health emergency, was in focus at the event titled A Higher Calling, with the trio reflecting on the tradeoff between a one to one conversation, and reaching the masses in abstract.

Coopes and Pryor shared insights from their respective journeys into medicine from the media, and debated the meaning of vocation, place of ideals and activism in the often conservative world of medical practice, and how far a doctor’s duty extended to advocate for their patients.

They also extolled the value of narrative and bearing witness across the two professions, as an act of solidarity, respect, and healing.

You can watch playback of the livestream of both talks, and the full Antidote program, via the Sydney Opera House. (Link to streaming Festival Pass: Antidote 2022 – Stream – Sydney Opera House).


More COVID news


See Croakey’s extensive archive of articles on COVID

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

#CroakeyFundingDrive
5 – 11 December

All week:
#HealthEquityMatters2023

Monday, 5 December:
#AppreciationDay

Tuesday, 6 December:
#ResearchTranslation

Friday, 9 December:
#PetsofCroakey

Sunday, 11 December:
#HealthEquityMatters2023

**
Subscriptions to the Croakey bulletin are free this week.

Search by: Categories or tags

Search
Generic filters
Filter by Categories
@WePublicHealth2021
#CroakeyLIVE #Budget2021Health
#CroakeyNews
#FirstNations
#health
#MHReform
#OutOfTheBox
#QldVotesHealth
#RCIADIC30Years
#RuralHealthJustice
#TRIPSwaiver
2021 Floods
Budget2020Health
Bushfires
Co-design
community control
COVID-19
Croakey Conference News Service
#16nrhc
#2020ResearchExcellence
#21OPCC
#BackToTheFire
#FoodGovernance2021
#GiantSteps21
#Govern4Health
#GreenHealthForum21
#GreenHealthForum22