Treating violence like a disease helped cut Colombia’s murder rate by 82%
Many people today still associate Colombia with drugs, gangs and danger. But things are changing in the Latin American country: in 25 years, the murder rate has plummeted by 82%.
The decline of violence is in part thanks to historical political shifts. But the cartels and insurgencies weren’t the only factors driving the killing: high levels of income inequality, rapid urbanisation, drug and alcohol abuse and gender inequality all contributed.
Colombia took on these issues by investing in a new approach that treated violence as a public health problem – a disease like any other that needs to be tackled at the root. That meant a focus on prevention using a range of public services, not just repression by law enforcement. City mayors in Cali, Bogotá and Medellín were inspired by data-based, research-driven methods that have long been standard among public health professionals.
So, how did it work, and what can the rest of the world learn from Colombia’s path the peace?