The Good: A Great Read
Available at Taylor & Francis Online, “Critical Public Health is an international journal publishing innovative research into public health and health promotion, including health and policy issues“. According to Wikipedia “Critical Public Health is a quarterly peer-reviewed public health journal. It was established in 1979 as Radical Community Medicine, obtaining its current name in 1990. It is published by Routledge and the editors-in-chief are Judith Green and Lindsay McLaren“.
The Bad: Poor Policy
Robert Dingwall recently made headlines in the UK by calling for a “sense of proportion” and criticising government for promoting the environment of fear which has gripped our world in the face of Covid-19. He co-authored this article at Critical Public Health, reviewing the debate about whether or not face masks should be recommended for public protection against Covid-19. The authors argue that rushed policy changes promoted by a narrow range of expertise bypasses proper scrutiny of the issue. They provide detail of five main points against promoting mass use of face masks, being:
- Limited evidence of effectiveness;
- Proper use of facemasks, which even health care workers find challenging, cannot be guaranteed and improper use can lead to increased risk of infection;
- Facemasks can lead to a false sense of security and relaxing of other, more effective prevention measures (eg reduced hand washing);
- Adverse social consequences such as reduced availability of masks in settings where they are needed, eg hospitals; promotion of mask wearing as a virtuous behaviour leading to stigmatisation and abuse of anyone without a mask;
- Promotion of face mask use is a complex intervention requiring scientific rigour rather than blunt policy imposition which can be very challenging to revise once in place.
A teacher wears a mask with zero effectiveness due to improper use. In a childhood setting where measures are completely unnecessary given the extremely low risk children face of illness and their very low risk of transmission to others if they are infected.