oa South African Journal of Bioethics and Law - Public health and social justice : forging the links : research

Volume 8 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1999-7639



The purpose of this article is to explore the concept and scope of public health and to argue that particularly in low-income contexts, where social injustice and poverty often impact significantly on the overall health of the population, the link between public health and social justice should be a very firm one. Furthermore, social justice in these contexts must be understood as not simply a matter for local communities and nation-states, but in so far as public health is concerned, as a matter of global concern and responsibility. The interpretation of the scope of public health by any particular nation is I believe contingent on the current socio-political context and the conception of social or distributive justice that underpins this context. Furthermore I will argue here that the link between public health and social justice ought to be founded on a conception of social justice that adequately addresses issues of social injustice, and patterns of systematic disadvantage, that contribute to ill health and that so commonly prevail in many low- and middle-income social contexts.

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