Lessons Learned from an Intervention by Médecins Sans
Maria Ximena Di Lollo, Elena Estrada Cocina, Francisco De Bartolome Gisbert, Raquel González Juarez, and Ana Garcia Mingo
The disease caused by a hitherto unknown coronavirus, and denoted coronavirus disease
2019 (COVID-19) was designated a pandemic on 11 March 2020 ( World Health Organization, 2020a ). The first case of
COVID-19 was detected in Spain on 31 January 2020, and as of August 2021 there have
been more than 4,500,000 cases and over 80,000 COVID-19 deaths in the country.
Given the novelty of the virus, there was a lack of basic information about the
COVID-19 has reinstated the sovereign enclosures of corpse management that mothers of the disappeared had so successfully challenged in the past decade. To explore how moral duties toward the dead are being renegotiated due to COVID-19, this article puts forward the notion of biorecuperation, understood as an individualised form of forensic care for the dead made possible by the recovery of biological material. Public health imperatives that forbid direct contact with corpses due to the pandemic, interrupt the logics of biorecuperation. Our analysis is based on ten years of experience working with families of the disappeared in Mexico, ethnographic research within Mexico’s forensic science system and online interviews conducted with medics and forensic scientists working at the forefront of Mexico City’s pandemic. In the face of increasing risks of viral contagion and death, this article analyses old and new techniques designed to bypass the prohibitions imposed by the state and its monopoly over corpse management and identification.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed multiple fault lines in the performances of health
services at every level – from community to national to global – in
ensuring universal, equitable access to preventive and curative care. Tragically, this
has been to the detriment of those who have suffered and died not only from COVID-19,
but also from the myriad other ailments affecting people around the world. Of those, we
wish to highlight here some key categories of diseases that have caused a greater
The case of the management of the dead related to COVID-19
This article studies one of the humanitarian challenges caused by the COVID-19 crisis: the dignified handling of the mortal remains of individuals that have died from COVID-19 in Muslim contexts. It illustrates the discussion with examples from Sunni Muslim-majority states when relevant, such as Egypt, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco and Pakistan, and examples from English-speaking non-Muslim majority states such as the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada and Australia as well as Sri Lanka. The article finds that the case of the management of dead bodies of people who have died from COVID-19 has shown that the creativity and flexibility enshrined in the Islamic law-making logic and methodology, on the one hand, and the cooperation between Muslim jurists and specialised medical and forensic experts, on the other, have contributed to saving people’s lives and mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Muslim contexts.
Recounting the failures of the United States to adequately address the COVID-19
pandemic, reflecting on the parade of mendacity that has encapsulated the 45th
presidency, and interpreting Baldwin’s call to be responsible to our
children, Justin A. Joyce introduces the sixth volume of James Baldwin
The handling of the deceased during the COVID-19 pandemic, a case study in France and Switzerland
Gaëlle Clavandier, Marc-Antoine Berthod, Philippe Charrier, Martin Julier-Costes, and Veronica Pagnamenta
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an unprecedented global crisis. To limit the spread of the virus and the associated excess mortality, states and governing bodies have produced a series of regulations and recommendations from a health perspective. The funerary aspects of these directives have reconfigured not only the ways in which the process of dying can be accompanied, but also the management of dead bodies, impacting on the dying, their relatives and professionals in the sector. Since March 2020, the entire process of separation and farewell has been affected, giving rise to public debates about funeral restrictions and the implications for mourning. We carried out a study in France and Switzerland to measure the effects of this crisis, and in particular to explore whether it has involved a shift from a funerary approach to a strictly mortuary one. Have the practices that would normally be observed in non-pandemic times been irrevocably altered? Does this extend to all deaths? Has there been a switch to an exclusively technical handling? Are burial practices still respected? The results of the present study pertain to the ‘first wave’ of spring 2020 and focus on the practices of professionals working in the funeral sector.
A Belated but Welcome Theory of Change on Mental Health and
healthcare and comorbidities’.
Intersectionality, Social Determinants and COVID-19
To achieve DfID’s vision and measure impact effectively, the document urges
NGOs to advocate for and create programmes to ‘address structural conditions
and root causes’ of mental ill-health. Yet, the ToC self-admittedly only
‘touches on’ how mental health is inextricably linked to other
developmental goals – regrettable, given its clear intersectionality
Debates Surrounding Ebola Vaccine Trials in Eastern Democratic Republic of
Myfanwy James, Joseph Grace Kasereka, and Shelley Lees
five-month suspension caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We established a social
science team which worked in collaboration with the trial to explore local
experiences of the trial. The aim was to produce academic research that could
help inform the intervention, while also providing critique and maintaining
academic independence. This required a delicate balance: the social science
study remained distinct from the community engagement activities of the trial