Health and health services, goods for sale

Source: CoNGO
The outcome document of the Civil Society Development Forum 2009 organized by the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the UN (CoNGO) serves as the main output of the forum and was circulated to all member governments of ECOSOC during its High-Level Segment. July 2009. (PDF). [see more]
Civil society is expressing concern over the privatization process that is affecting essential services such as education, health and basic infrastructure.

The widespread problems in health systems in developing countries have their roots in the economic crisis of the 1980s and the economic reforms which attempted to deal with that crisis.

The political and economic trends of those years had effects on health that broke all the promises made at the International Conference on Primary Health Care that took place in Alma Ata in 1998. There, 134 countries agreed that health “is a fundamental human right” and that “the attainment of the highest possible level of health is a most important world-wide social goal whose realization requires the action of many other social and economic sectors in addition to the health sector”. This should have be attained through a revolutionary approach called “Primary Health Care”.

Over the following years the burden of making large interest payments on debt squeezed out spending on health, education and other public services. Reforms demanded by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, in return for loans which could be used to deal with the crisis, included reining in government expenditure even further, a measure which only reinforced the negative impact of the economic crisis.

This model, which has been promoted under the label of modernization, has transferred to individuals the responsibility historically assumed by governments. This has been done mainly through the introduction of user charges, decentralization and the development of health insurance. This is part of a broader approach that was made public under the name of Structural Adjustment Programmes.

Although the World Bank claims that "in most developing countries, the private sector exerts a significant and critical influence on health and nutrition outcomes", there are alarming signs of deterioration in health system effectiveness in those countries. Poor people cannot afford the cost of health and are increasingly dropping out of the system.

Basic services are considered a part of human rights. The United Nations has its own Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights. It has promoted a declaration in the framework of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), a WTO initiative that focuses on free trade in services in the professions, health and education. The UN declaration "seeks trade law and policy that take into account the rights of all individuals, in particular vulnerable individuals and groups". However, it does not specifically refer to the policy of privatization, perhaps out of the desire to avoid open conflict with powerful member governments that support it.
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Thursday, July 09 2009
Civil society proposals on public health
(Source: CoNGO)
Friday, November 21 2008
Alternative world health report calls for radical change
(Source: People's Health Movement)
Thursday, April 17 2008
Debt and health
(Source: Jubilee Debt Campaign)

World Health Assembly

World Health Assembly ends with several decisions (South-North Development Monitor)

Fifty-eighth World Health Assembly - 16-25 May, 2005

World Health Assembly reviews the world’s health problems (Third World Network)

The Alma-Ata Declaration

New WHO roadmap for primary health incomplete (People’s Health Movement)

Text of the Declaration (People's Health Movement)

People’s Charter for Health (People's Health Movement)

Health for all Now! Revive Alma Ata (People's Health Movement)

The World Trade Organization and GATS

Public services at risk: GATS and the privatisation agenda (Social Watch)

How the WTO is shaping domestic policies in health care (Public Citizen)

The General Agreement in Trade in Services (GATS) and its implications for health (People's Health Movement)

Trading health care away?: GATS, public services and privatisation (The Corner House)

National and regional experiences: Africa

The bitterest pill of all: the collapse of Africa's health systems (Save the Children Fund)

South Africa: privatisation does not benefit the poor (Congress of South African Trade Unions)

Globalisation, health and health services in Sub-Saharan Africa (International People's Health Council)

IMF policies and Kenya's health care crisis (Pambazuka)

Burundi: a population deprived of healthcare (MSF)

Hazardous to health: The WB and IMF in Africa (Africa Action)

National and regional experiences: Asia

Malaysia: increased costs without improvement in quality (Social Watch)

Malaysia: re-negotiating the social contract (Universiti Sains Malaysia)

India: issues and debates in health care (Info Change India)

India: erosion of rights and marketisation of development (NCAS)

Medical tourism: subsidising health care for developed countries (TWN)

An overview

Globalisation and the impact on health (Third World Network)

Civil society proposals on public health (CoNGO)

Alternative world health report calls for radical change (People's Health Movement)

Debt and health (Jubilee Debt Campaign)

Health: extreme risk (Social Watch)

Global health overview 2005 (Social Watch Report 2005)

The Cuenca Declaration (People's Health Movement)

Commercial approach to global health challenges decried (IPS)

Global Health Watch report 2005-2006 (Global Health Watch)

From social contract to private contracts (Social Watch)

The World Bank

The World Bank’s Private Sector Development Strategy: key issues and risks (Wemos)

On the Structural Adjustment Programmes (Third World Network)

The role of the World Bank (People's Health Movement)

The World Bank position: the importance of working with the private sector (The World Bank)

Civil society position: the consequences of working with the private sector (Corner House)

Low credit: a report on the World Bank’s response to HIV/AIDS in developing countries (ActionAid)

The UN

The right to the highest attainable standard of health (United Nations)

Economic, social and cultural rights: liberalization of trade in services and human rights (UN)

Disabilities and health (UN)

The Bangkok charter for health promotion in a globalized world (WHO)

The gender dimension in health

Gender inequity in health: why it exists and how we can change it (Women and Gender Equity Knowledge Network/ WHO)

World Health Day 2005: Make every mother and child count (WHO)

Health sector reforms: hazardous to women's health

National and regional experiences: Latin America

Chile: private interests for public services (Social Watch)

Colombia: the violation of social rights within market rationale (Social Watch)

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