Health lag: medical philosophy reflects on COVID-19 pandemic

  • Alireza Monajemi ORCID Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy of Science and Technology, Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies, Tehran, Iran.
  • Hamidreza Namazi ORCID Mail Assistant Professor, Department of Medical Ethics, School of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
Medical philosophy; Medical humanities; Medicalization; Public health; COVID-19; Pandemics.


In this paper, we reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic based on medical philosophy. A critical examination of the Corona crisis uncovers that in order to understand and explain the unpreparedness of the health systems, we need a new conceptual framework. This helps us to look at this phenomenon in a new way, address new problems, and come up with creative solutions. Our proposal is that “health lag” is a concept that could help frame and explain this unpreparedness and unreadiness. The term “health lag” refers to the failure of health systems to keep up with clinical medicine. In other words, health issues in most situations fall behind clinical medicine, leading to social, cultural, and economic problems. In the first step to define health lag, we have to explain the distinction between clinical medicine and health and address the role of individual health, public health, and epidemic in this dichotomy. Thereafter, the reasons behind health lag will be analyzed in three levels: theoretical, practical, and institutional. In the third step, we will point out the most important consequences of health lag: the medicalization of health, the inconsistency of biopolitics, inadequate ethical frameworks, and public sphere vulnerabilities. Finally, we try to come up with a set of recommendations based on this philosophical-conceptual analysis.


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How to Cite
Monajemi A, Namazi H. Health lag: medical philosophy reflects on COVID-19 pandemic. J Med Ethics Hist Med. 13.