Document Type: Commentary
School of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
The profound inadequacies of Western modernist ways of thinking have been revealed by the intimately connected catastrophes of climate destruction, and more recently, the coronavirus crisis. The pandemic has forced us to notice deepening inequalities and has generated troubling questions about its causes, and who and what can be sacrificed in a pandemic. The analysis offered in Evelyn de Leeuw’s essay “The rise of the consucrat” suggests that the particular type of patient advocates she calls consucrats are unlikely to engage in thinking together about these urgent questions. If anything, due to their narrow biomedical focus and alliances with the pharmaceutical industry, they are likely to facilitate catastrophe capitalism. However, within the field of patient advocacy, there is a diversity of ways of thinking, occasionally leading to bitter contention. A number of terms is needed to reflect this diversity. One group of patient advocates who have come to the fore in recent times might be called medical cosmopolitans, or cosmedics, those who are challenging opportunistic catastrophe capitalism during the pandemic and advocating for global access to essential medicines. Forcing us to notice our deep interdependencies and entanglements, the pandemic has revealed how ludicrous it is to think about patients as consumers, and the need to think about and imagine more-than-human patient advocacy.