For many who work to promote the universal right to health, Brexit has brought despondency.

While some people supported Brexit on the back of democratic and progressive arguments, many who voted in favour of a rupture with Europe appeared to do so out of insecurity and mistrust, driven by a combination of austerity, alienation from the political establishment, and xenophobic fear-mongering.

This triumph of insularity, intolerance and indifference over social solidarity and internationalism is not just disheartening, but also dangerous.

Ill winds from many directions pose serious threats to the health and wellbeing of people all over the world: global warming and broader forms of ecological degradation; rising inequalities, unemployment and poverty; the biggest refugee crisis since WW2; growing militarisation and conflict; and increasing religious and cultural intolerance.

These ill winds, when placed in the context of the debate that preceded the referendum, indicate a need for a new politics that is anchored in the public interest; infused with decency and honesty; driven by compassion; informed by evidence; enabled by public interest experts; and free from undemocratic influence.

We also desperately need a new economics and form of globalisation that is fairer, and which treats the planet with care and respect. Better and healthier alternatives to neoliberalism, militarism, consumerism and corporate capitalism exist.

A progressive community of health workers is needed more than ever to raise hope in the idea of a safer, fairer and better world. Here at Medact we will keep working hard to build a platform for the health community to better use its professional mandate and standing in society to treat the social viruses of hatred, ignorance, greed, violence and corruption.

If you feel the same way and consider yourself a health professional, worker or advocate, help us to help you amplify your voice and action.

You can join our Refugee Solidarity Group this Refugee Week. Or another of our growing number of our growing number of ‘Health Through Peace’ groups.

You can support our work on climate change and economic justice. Or find out more about how we try to extend human rights through medicine and health care.

Either way, let’s not allow despondency to take hold.
David McCoy
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