How do social factors determine health and health security? How can greater awareness of these social dimensions impact on our current and future collective response to pandemics? And what priority actions are now demanded, to move once and for all in the direction of Health-in-All policies? In this dialogue with Benjamin Rouffy-Ly (Health Systems Governance Collaborative), Dr. Ngoy Nsenga, Emergency Response Lead of the WHO Afro Region, takes us on a tour d’horizon of the social determinants of health outbreaks and the many vital considerations which once again have surfaced in the CoVID-19 pandemic. What are ‘right measures at the right time’? What to do when measures appear worse than a disease? Who are in the end most affected by lockdowns?
In the dialogue, Dr. Ngoy Nsenga draws on over 25 years of work devoted to health systems and health security in a rich variety of crises settings on the African continent, urban, rural, different regions. Ngoy Nsenga was one of the first to be deployed by the WHO in Sierra Leone during the 2014 ebola outbreak. In 2020, he defended his PhD thesis on Population-Level Determinants of Cholera Incidence in African countries. He emphasizes how deeper socio-ecological approaches to health and security are long overdue. And he coined the term ‘social determinants of outbreaks’.