Report on global health inequalities

In: Uncategorized

29 Aug 2008

No doubt the new report on global health inequalities by a commission backed by the World Health Organization (WHO) will repay close study. It is a comprehensive work on an important subject. It also looks certain that some will use the fact that there is not a 100% clear correlation between income levels and health as a way of downplaying the importance of economic growth. To quote the press release:

“Wealth alone does not have to determine the health of a nation’s population. Some low-income countries such as Cuba, Costa Rica, China, state of Kerala in India and Sri Lanka have achieved levels of good health despite relatively low national incomes.”

Thankfully the report is not as laughably crude as the leader in today’s Guardian which almost reduces the question to unhealthy lifestyles and even low self esteem:

“We know now that people do not only die of coronary heart disease because of a failure on the part of their local hospital. Such deaths reflect unhealthy lifestyles, and unhealthy lifestyles are often connected to poor education, bad housing, low-paid work and the low self-esteem that accompany them.”

The arguments put forward by the likes of Michael Marmot, the chairman of he WHO commission, and Amartya Sen, a member of the commission, are more sophisticated and harder to take up.

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