Global Health Justice

June 21, 2023

Global Health Justice: The Intersection of Religion and Structural Violence

By Patience Komba

Global health justice is a powerful ideal, striving for equal access to healthcare and fair health outcomes worldwide. Religion and religious organizations have and continue to play a pivotal role in advancing this cause, championing compassion, care, and justice for the vulnerable. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that there are instances when religion can be misused, leading to the victimization and tragic loss of innocent individuals.

One such unfolding tragedy from the depths of the Shakahola forest in Kilifi County, Kenya, casts a haunting shadow on our collective consciousness. Reports reveal a cult priest who allegedly manipulated his church members, propagating the belief that starvation would enable them to meet Jesus. This manipulative ideology led to the starvation and tragic deaths of vulnerable individuals, including women and young children. The toll of this devastating event has now reached 330 lives lost, and the excavation of graves continues as countless more are reported missing.

As we advocate for global health justice, we must confront the uncomfortable truth that religion can sometimes be exploited to manipulate, control, and victimize society’s most vulnerable. It is a reminder that even within faith communities, vigilance is needed to protect human rights, dignity, and well-being.

While investigations are still undergoing,  it is imperative to strengthen mechanisms that promote transparency, accountability, and responsible religious leadership. Open dialogue, education, and critical citizen engagement are essential to identify and address potential abuses of religious authority, safeguarding the principles of compassion, inclusivity, and justice that underpin global health justice.


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