The Future of Public Health through Science Fiction

Jarrel Kristan Zakhary De Matas
2022 Humanities  
This study investigates the ability of science fiction to address issues that emerge in public health. The issues that form the focus of this paper include the spread of misinformation and disinformation, dependence on technology, and competent public-private partnerships that serve the interests of society. Each of these issues is brought under the spotlight by Barbadian sociologist Karen Lord in 'The Plague Doctors' and American psychiatrist Justin C. Key in 'The Algorithm Will See You Know'.
more » ... The stories, although set in unrealized futures and describe as yet inconceivable advancements in technology, contain real-world problems involved in accessing healthcare. In doing so, both writers attend to the viability of literature, and the humanities in general, as a vehicle for encouraging reform to public health policies that face challenges such as inequities in healthcare and raising greater awareness of health concerns. My study bridges public health and literature, specifically science fiction, to get certain messages across. These messages include effectively communicating risks to people's health, increasing understanding of social responsibility, and addressing uncertainty with transparency. The stories in question reveal futures where public health management has, for the most part, either got it right, in the case of 'The Plague Doctors', or not quite, in the case of 'The Algorithm Will See You Now'. Because I consider the COVID-19 pandemic to be less of a disruptor to public health and more of a revealer of what public health needs to focus on, I foresee interdisciplinary projects such as mine as crucial to bridging the disconnect between people and public health policies.
doi:10.3390/h11050127 fatcat:d5zxekyy2vbxxeus5iuzokhbba