Populist radical right a threat to core values of medicine and public health

Friday 2 June 2017

The populist radical right is a threat to core values of medicine and public health, even within a functioning democratic system, according to a commentary published today by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. In his paper, political scientist Professor Scott Greer, who specialises in researching the politics of health policies of the European Union, attempts to explain what the rising tide of the right in Europe and the United States will mean for medicine and public health.

Greer, Associate Professor of Health Management and Policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, describes how in the UK the country’s only important populist radical right party has substantially shaped the agenda of British politics, almost entirely through the adoption of UKIP positions by bigger mainstream parties.

Populism, he says, sits badly with the evidence-based style of public health, citing comments made by Mike Pence, the new United States Vice President, who has endorsed ‘gay conversion’ therapy that purports to make patients heterosexual and has said that ‘smoking doesn’t kill’.

Greer says: “Populist radical right parties are not naturally inclined to collective financing of healthcare services or taking regulatory public health measures.” Instead, he says, the effect of ‘welfare chauvinism’ on health access is likely to be exclusionary, reducing benefits for migrants or others whom they consider outside the people of their populism.

Since World War II, public health and medicine in many countries has developed strong commitments to both human rights and vulnerable populations. Greer warns medical and public health professionals to be very careful about working with radical right parties and governments. “Any elective affinity between authoritarianism and public health would probably undermine our commitments to human rights”, he says, and urges the medical and public health community to remain focused on promoting broadly egalitarian social policy, including the defence of health programmes.

Notes for editors

Medicine, public health and the populist radical right (DOI: 10.1177/0141076817712250) by Scott L Greer will be published by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine at 00:05 (UK time) on Friday 2 June 2017.

The link for the paper when published will be:

https://doi.org/10.1177/0141076817712250

For further information or a copy of the paper please contact:

Rosalind Dewar
Media Office, Royal Society of Medicine
DL: +44 (0) 1580 764713
M: +44 (0) 7785 182732
E: media@rsm.ac.uk

The JRSM is the flagship journal of the Royal Society of Medicine and is published by SAGE. It has full editorial independence from the RSM. It has been published continuously since 1809. Its Editor is Dr Kamran Abbasi.

Sara Miller McCune founded SAGE Publishing in 1965 to support the dissemination of usable knowledge and educate a global community. SAGE is a leading international provider of innovative, high-quality content publishing more than 1000 journals and over 800 new books each year, spanning a wide range of subject areas. A growing selection of library products includes archives, data, case studies and video. SAGE remains majority owned by our founder and after her lifetime will become owned by a charitable trust that secures the company’s continued independence. Principal offices are located in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC and Melbourne. www.sagepublishing.com

 

media office contact

Media Manager
Rosalind Dewar

Email: media@rsm.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)1580764713
Mobile: +44 (0)7785182732

See all press releases arrow