'Decipio': examining Virchow in the context of modern 'democracy'

Public Health. 2012 Apr;126(4):303-7. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2011.12.010. Epub 2012 Feb 22.


More than 100 years ago Rudolf Virchow advocated for enhanced democracy and socioeconomic reforms in order that the state could empower people to achieve better health. With reference to these now famous assertions this article traces the promises and pit-falls of democracy from ancient Greece to neo-liberal economies, to ascertain if the democratic state is indeed the ideal mechanism for promoting public health. In the end we conclude that contemporary western political systems are not rooted in the interest of the people, but are rather deceptive forces of branding designed to promote underlining agendas. This 'decipractic' (decipo = to deceive) system of politics demands a vigilant analysis and response from those in the health and academic communities to ensure that governments can be a mechanism for positive change in the public's interest.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Democracy*
  • Government / history
  • Health Policy
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Patient Advocacy
  • Politics*
  • Public Health / history*
  • Social Conditions
  • Social Sciences