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Alternative world health report calls for radical change

Alternative world health report calls for radical change

16th October 2008 | GHW Media Release | "Civil society organizations and scientists from around the world are calling for ‘a new development paradigm’ to address the toxic combination of climate change, growing poverty and inequality and poor health.

The new report, Global Health Watch 2, says that unfair social and economic policies combined with bad politics are to blame for the poor state of the health of millions of people in the world .  The report makes stinging criticisms of key global actors, including the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the Gates Foundation. The report calls on governments to stop the Bank from meddling in health politics.

Global Health Watch 2 provides examples of civil society mobilization across the world for more equitable health care and more health promotion, although more is needed to bring about significant improvements in health.

The report reveals widespread unease about the immense but unaccountable power and influence of the Gates Foundation.  It says that although the Gates Foundation has injected vast sums of money into global health, it operates in an undemocratic way and reinforces a medical-technical approach.

Among other issues it highlights is the pressure exerted on the World Health Organization by powerful and vested interests that would prefer WHO’s activities and programme to have a more biomedical and less political focus.

Global Health Watch 2 was launched in London on 16th October, followed by launches in around 20 other countries.

The first edition of Global Health Watch, published in 2005, was hailed for its ground-breaking analysis and mobilising call to action.

Marion Birch, director of the London-based charity, Medact:
“Priorities set by the rich world damage the health of people thousands of miles away.  Funding for water and sanitation is falling while slum-dwellers in Lagos pay up to 40 times as much for water as residents in downtown New York. Oil extraction in the Niger Delta generates billions of dollars of revenue but local communities lack basic health care.”

Amit Sengupta of the People’s Health Movement in India:
“The World Bank’s job is to help transfer resources from richer to poor countries and it should act accordingly. Its impact on the health systems of poor countries has been largely negative.  Internationally, it has also contributed to the uncoordinated circus of health sector policy-making that makes it difficult for Ministries of Health to function”.

Martin Drewry, director of the charity Health Unlimited:
“The majority world does not want charity – it wants a fairer political and economic system. It needs fewer billionaires; not more. While it is great that Bill Gates is willing to donate his money towards improving health in Africa, he would do far better campaigning for more effective tax systems both nationally and internationally”.

The report is available for download.

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