Virtual Speaker Series 2020-2021 | College of Arts

Virtual Speaker Series 2020-2021

pandemic graphic

Pandemics and (Global) Health Justice

Sridhar Venkatapuram
Kings College, London

Friday October 9, 2020 10:00am-11:30 am
This is a virtual / on-line event

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed failures and vulnerabilities in so many domains, and at so many levels from the personal to the global.

While the concerns for protecting the vulnerable and equity in response and recovery plans are prominent, are theories of social and health equity and justice also proving to be limited and inadequate?  Libertarian approaches seem to not be able to recognize our inter-dependency and need for coordination and cooperation within societies.  And social contract theories are not able to recognize that health and well-being, indeed life and death, are globally determined.  However, the health justice approach I have developed based on the capabilities approach, does have both analytical and normative power in addressing both 'normal' health inequalities and pandemics.  It was born out of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and it has relevance to COVID and the epidemics to come.  I will review the 'moral right to the capability to be healthy' argument and then apply it to the present pandemic, focusing some attention on the disproportionate deaths and suffering of older people.

Prof. Venkatapuram is Associate Professor of Global Health and Philosophy, and Acting Deputy Director of King’s Global Health Institute, at King’s College London. He is author of many academic papers and reports on health equity and justice, social determinants of health, vulnerability, and global bioethics. His 2012 book, Health Justice (Wiley & Sons, 2013) employs a capabilities approach (cf. Sen, Nussbaum) to frame health as a capability from which duties and responsibilities emerge.

For more on Sridhar’s research, see

Virtual Location and Access:

A Zoom link will be emailed to all members of the department by Maya Goldenberg, Speaker Series Coordinator, prior to the talk. The link can be shared with interested guests outside of the department. Guests can also RSVP Maya ( in order to have the meeting link emailed to them.