SUMMARY:Notions of social reform and social medicine that evolve from the 19th century onwards have been discussed by scholars especially in relation with the advent of cholera and industrial societies. However, the relevance of social reform has long been demonstrated by scholars such as Alain Roussillon for the MENA region, regardless of an industrialization process occurring there.
This panel aims at filling a gap between social histories of medicine in the Middle East that have focused, from below, and a more institutional approach that has dwelled on the social engineering of medicine as a state-building/ empire-building tool. Focus on social reform and social medicine requires a "meso" approach, between the macro and the micro levels, and which by implication has to do with construction of norms, low-level actors of policy-making, enquiry processes, petitioning and local mobilization, in particular at the emergent municipal level.
This panel agrees that war was iteratively a trigger for policy making on social and health issues. These would not only build on the shifting conceptions of nationalism that characterized the era but also enhanced the role of local actors, experts and cause entrepreneurs. This connection can also be evidenced by growing social concerns in the aftermath of the Arab revolutions and especially as a consequence of refugees from Syria, Iraq or Yemen.
Wars and social problems are mutually interconnected through links such as the global impoverishment induced by the concentration of resources in the war effort, the heightened difficulty to face issues that are already hard to cope in peace time such as epidemics and starvation, and the multiplications of the various victims of war. Household with reduced workforce, citizens submitted to rationing, dependent people deprived as the state resources are allocated in priority to the military, and last, but not least, refugees are some of the other topics that need to be further enquired to build on the relationship between war, social reform and social medicine.
Finally, social medicine as an approach of healthcare has been vastly understudied in the MENA region, being overshadowed by insights into anti-epidemic control, military medicine which deals with healthcare in social and spatial enclaves, and into global health, especially in its preventive and healthcare-building dimensions.