Subscribe to our weekly International update on Health Policies
The weekly IHP newsletter offers a digest of key global health (policy, governance, research) reads.
Select a newsletter issue or browse the topics in the current issue.
This week’s issue will pay, among others, attention to COP 25 in Madrid (the flurry of climate related news and reports included a rather alarming WHO Health and Climate change Survey report ), a new World Malaria Report, the ICASA conference in Kigali and a GAVI Board meeting in Delhi. We also come back briefly on World AIDS Day, and of course, many of you are already gearing up for UHC Day next week (12 December), with Dr. Tedros & Rob Yates no doubt leading the pack 😊.
Earlier this week, as I was reading A-E Birn et al’s brilliant paper in a new Globalization & Health Supplement, ‘What matters in health (care) universes: delusions, dilutions, and ways towards universal health justice’ (in which, among others, the authors contrast UHC with Universal Health Justice), I thought of Emmanuel Macron’s labelling of NATO as ‘braindead‘ a few weeks ago. As you know, I’m a lot more diplomatic than Jupiter 😊, and granted, Macron might have subconsciously thought of one NATO leader in particular when making this rather general (and harsh) assessment, but you have to admit that Macron’s blunt metaphor managed to focus some minds. And so, on a cold December morning on the train, Birn et al’s paper made me wonder, along similar lines, whether a certain segment of global health isn’t also near-‘braindead’, with its strange mix of (still largely) MDG-era priorities, fondness of MDG-era ways of doing things (enter PPPs), combined now with “UHC mania” (Birn’s term), the ongoing Northern-inspired emphasis on global health security (to be tackled, naturally, with an insurance here, a pandemic bond there …), and before I forget, the still pervasive influence of an MDG-era billionaire who happens to have a rather sedative impact on daring to think ‘out of the capitalist box’, not to mention political and commercial determinants of health.
Meanwhile, it’s rather obvious, end of 2019, that to get to ‘universal health justice’ and avoid the worst of climate breakdown, current global health recipes won’t suffice. Post-capitalism and a more caring economy need to be embraced sooner rather than later, including in global health circles, at least if we want to be part of the transformation we so urgently need. As Naomi Klein and others have said, “there are no non-radical options left before us. We need to rethink not only our energy technologies, but also how we organise work, welfare, public services, and the economy. “
Anyway. Some of you know cognitive decline is my middle name, and so I’ll gently refrain from using the label ‘braindead’ for the abovementioned high-powered section of global health as (1) my assessment above is way too harsh, even for this powerful lot in global health; (2) unlike in NATO, pretty much everybody in global health has good intentions; and (3) last but not least, I do not want to tempt fate 😊. Still, no matter what label you prefer, too many in global health power corridors seem stuck in their old ways – a bit like you hear in shopping malls over and over again Wham!’s “Last Christmas”, this time of the year. It will probably take a new global health generation to truly enter the SDG health/planetary health era, including in terms of governance.
Meanwhile, I already want to make a gentle contribution to the paradigm shift needed, and so I hope with many of you that the hashtag #Taxthatass will go viral around the globe in the coming months. Anand “Winners take all” Giridharadas coined it earlier this week, pointing out, rather eloquently, “When it comes to billionaires, we need to #Taxthatass.” 😊
Enjoy your reading.