May 8, 2022
“I can’t breathe!” Racism, colonialism, and corrupt governance as global public health threats
Iman Nuwayhid’s decades of experience as professor of environmental health, dean of the AUB Faculty of Public Health, and this year a visiting professor at Yale University, prompt him to call for a new way to address public health issues. In this interview he links three pivotal historical events in the USA and Arab lands – George Floy’s killing in the USA that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement, Mohammad Bouazizi’s self-immolation in Tunisia that triggered the Arab uprisings, and young Mohammad Durra’s killing by Israeli soldiers in Gaza while he was in his father’s arms, which sparked greater Palestinian popular resistance – that compel us to see people’s pain, suffering and death as the consequence of deeper and global realities. Beyond isolated health issues that are counted and documented, we must grasp individual pain and death rather as reflections of systemic and trans-generational injustices. All over the world, going back centuries, these include racism, colonialism, occupation, corruption, and incompetent governance, which create “invisible wounds” that must be made visible, appreciated, and treated through political, social, economic and other means.