Original Research

The synergistic implications of COVID-19, public health and environmental ethics in Kenya

Telesia K. Musili
Inkanyiso | Vol 16, No 1 | a107 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ink.v16i1.107 | © 2024 Telesia K. Musili | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 December 2023 | Published: 23 February 2024

About the author(s)

Telesia K. Musili, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya


COVID-19 is a global pandemic that has unmasked the underlying and once-ignored challenges in public health, especially in Africa. The pandemic has adversely disrupted people’s lives where systemic and structural inequalities have taken root owing to the interaction among religious, political, economic, socio-cultural, environmental and other influential factors, resulting in adverse outcomes. These interactions affected not only the psychological, physical, emotional and social wellbeing of all humanity but also their ethical way of thinking. Adherence to the local government ministry of health’s stringent measures, such as voluntary self-quarantine or forced quarantine, may be unattainable. This raises several ethical issues that are not new but which become intensified in pressing situations. Ethically, legitimate public health measures and conservative environmental efforts are easier to voluntarily comply with than being enforced. In this article, a phenomenological methodology was employed to not only debunk the ethical difficulties in adhering to the pandemic’s preventive protocols, but also to reason on the entwinement between the public health and environmental concerns. The article foregrounded that the COVID-19 pandemic is both a healthcare crisis and an environmental ethics challenge. In focussing on how systemic and structural inequalities influence social life, the article argued that public health ethics informs environmental conservation towards a more holistic approach to health and wealth that flows from environmental health ethics.

Contribution: The article advanced ongoing discussions on environmental health ethics. Environmental health ethics is a transdisciplinary and integrated approach that upholds sustainable balance and optimisation of the health of people, animals and ecosystems. A sensitisation and realisation of our inter-webbed relatedness to all, is a major step towards sustainable health and wealth.


COVID-19; environmental ethics; gender equity; holistic approach; public health ethics; synergistic; structural inequalities

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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