Physicians must play a greater role in social justice

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Physicians need to step up their role in safeguarding human and civil rights because failure to do so can threaten the health and even the lives of individuals facing political persecution, social strife, racial discrimination, or other forms of exploitation, according to Nikhil “Sunny” Patel, MPH ’16, who along with other Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health students, contributed to the AMA Journal of Ethics issue published in October 2015 titled “Physicians, Human Rights, and Civil Liberties.”

“Social justice is not merely a nice idea but a crucial part of our responsibility to promote health,” wrote Patel, an MD/MPH student at Harvard Chan School and a fourth-year medical student at the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Mich. Patel served as theme issue editor and co-authored several articles, including an article about the failure of the American Psychological Association to prohibit members’ involvement in torture. He also moderated a podcast with Harvard Chan School alum Joia Mukherjee, MPH ’01.

Other Harvard Chan School students who contributed to the journal issue included Dominic Caruso, Andrea Christopher, Mohit Nair, and Amos Lichtman. Judith Palfrey, professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences and J. Wesley Boyd of Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance also assisted.