The human right to access to the best possible health, enshrined in the United Nations Charter of Human Rights, is denied to half the world’s population. Millions of people around the world die from diseases that could be easily cured with today’s medical science. In many parts of the world, there is a shortage of doctors and medical professionals, as well as hospitals and health posts. Access to vital medicines is highly unevenly distributed: One third of the world’s population has no access because patent rules in the interest of the pharmaceutical industry lead to high drug prices and prevent a fair distribution of vital medicines. Basic medical care has to be paid for out of one’s own pocket in many places, even in public hospitals – unaffordable for millions of people. The result: instead of a publicly accessible health system, health becomes a commodity for the privileged.
Medical undersupply is only one part of the global health crisis. All over the world, it is the social and political conditions that determine life and death far more than medical factors. The conditions under which we grow up, live, work and learn have a decisive influence on our health: two billion people have no access to clean drinking water. It is estimated that 20 million people die every year from poverty-related diseases. The sheer coincidence of where one is born determines life expectancy and opportunities, healing or suffering, life or death. Inequalities do not only run along geographical lines, but are also caused by socio-political factors. Poor people everywhere get sick more often and die earlier.
Global health policy therefore needs regulation of the prevailing economy. What is needed are not bi- and multilateral trade treaties to protect the interests of investors, but treaties with which the economy is hemmed in across borders according to social standards. Health care must become a public good to which everyone everywhere in the world is entitled.
Nicoletta Dentico, Remco van de Pas, Priti Patnaik
Peter Clausing, Lena Luig, Jan Urhahn, Wiebke Beushausen
Marie-Claire Van Hout, Charlotte Bigland, Nina Murray
Nevenka Kapičić and Andrija Đukanović
Claudia Bernhard and Berit Köhler
Berit Köhler, Jan van Aken
BASIC, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, Corporate Europe Observatory, European Environmental Bureau, Good Food Good Farming, INKOTA, Public Eye, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung and SOS Faim