“The COVID-19 Syndemic Is Not Global: Context Matters”
In this publication, Emily Mendenhall argues that, before defining a disease like COVID-19 as a syndemic, we need to look at the context first. The concept of syndemic describes how COVID-19 clusters with pre-existing conditions, interacts with them, and is driven by larger political, economic, and social factors. In the US, COVID-19 is a syndemic because political failures have driven COVID-19 morbidity and mortality, which interacts with the historical legacy of systemic racism and the crisis of political leadership. But COVID-19 is not a global syndemic. In other contexts, like New Zealand, where political leadership in response to the crisis has been exemplary, COVID-19 is not syndemic. “In this sense, syndemics allow us to recognise how political and social factors drive, perpetuate, or worsen the emergence and clustering of diseases”.