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Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health
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Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health
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Poetic summary of Aletta Research Meet-up: Solidarity & Health

Datum:04 november 2022
Aletta Research Meet-up 3 November 2022
Aletta Research Meet-up 3 November 2022

On 3 November 2022, the Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health organised its 10th Aletta Research Meet-up. It was a very inspiring day about the topic of solidarity and health, with dynamic and intimate discussions, forming new research relationships and triggering future collaborations.

The host of the day, Ruth Koops van 't Jagt, created a poetic summary of the event which, we hope, will help you to relive your experiences or will be your food for thought. 

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your hearts. Today we invited you to step out of your scientific comfort zone, to join the momentum for public health to not only conceptually explore solidarity but to also learn while doing.

Because a successful response requires all disciplines and actors and our capacity to respond to adequately respond to those who need our help in crisis is radically tested.

Frank helped us to build some common conceptual ground, carefully sharing some tools for understanding to make sure that nobody falls of the scientific wagon. From each according to their capacity to each according to their needs mutual support within a group. But what is sharing the burden becomes more difficult? Would you still do the same if I needed it and if you could? Aren’t the governments outsourcing the problem? We should not shy away from difficult moral discussions because it will bite us in the back, we should make sharper choices we should ask ourselves what will our outcomes change?

Amrish encouraged us to embrace activism in the public health space so this is your call to provide the data that is integral to telling the stores that need to be told. This is your call to demand change not charity because solidarity should be practiced not just preached. This is your call to participate in actionable research.

Health crises always happen in a context: they are putting a stress test on our social infrastructures our willingness to help each other out if those others are not in our social ingroup.

In times of crises, we tend to dig into our epistemic bunkers even deeper, the places where we share the deepest connections with the people in our immediate social circles, those that are very much like you. It is often a good strategy to figure out what to do when you are confused and scared. But is there hope? Are there ways into the bunkers.

From a solidarity perspective we are worried, because at the end we are not the same. Some people need more help than other, but people increasingly don’t want to pay for known risks of others. And it becomes damn tricky regarding unhealthy lifestyle choices. But is there hope? We can revitalize the notion of health insurance as an instrument of equity not equality or fairness. None of us is as healthy as we think we are. We are all in this together. Some of us smoke or eat unhealthily, some of us are poor, and some of us do extreme sports, work extremely hard or break a leg during carpeting. So individualizing health is not helping us out also because that are a lot of factors outside your personal agency that influence your own health.

Some people say that law is clotted ethics. What we need in this multidimensional crisis are legal standards. We have rights. We have the right to health. We have the right to autonomy. But what if those rights collide. Should or shouldn’t we leave the doors open? How to increase stronger social cohesion? (How not to hamper solidarity? Let us talk about the money. Money transforms relationships and crowds out intrinsic motivation. But) Brenda told us to look up closely, because you see more if you stay close to those with dementia. Sometimes it is just helping someone to brush their hair. Every individual is also a community being. How can we enable sensitive communication with people from all different backgrounds? Sometimes what seems to be healthy may not be experienced as such. We should not only look through our biomedical lens, for some people praying may be more important to their health than visiting their doctor. So,

Great opportunities to help other seldom come but small ones surround us every day. Start to look up close, start to step out of your comfort zone and into a nursing home. Share your jacket, your wisdom, your soft skills and your laughs. Try to learn another scientific language. Favor human health and favor planetary health. We have to work together. Be human. Be kind. Be humankind.

By: Ruth Koops van 't Jagt