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Global Health and the Global Economic Crisis


Although the resources and knowledge for achieving improved global health exist, a new, critical paradigm on health as an aspect of human development, human security, and human rights is needed. Such a shift is required to sufficiently modify and credibly reduce the present dominance of perverse market forces on global health. New scientific discoveries can make wide-ranging contributions to improved health; however, improved global health depends on achieving greater social justice, economic redistribution, and enhanced democratization of production, caring social institutions for essential health care, education, and other public goods. As with the quest for an HIV vaccine, the challenge of improved global health requires an ambitious multidisciplinary research program.


Despite impressive scientific advances and massive economic growth over the past 60 years, disparities in wealth and health have persisted and, in many places, widened. As a result, the hope of achieving significantly improved health for a greater proportion of the world's people—one of the most pressing problems of our time—has become an ever more distant prospect.1–5 Our failure to make adequate advances in this direction is starkly illustrated by insufficient progress toward achieving the limited Millennium Development Goals for health in the poorest countries,6 the growing threat of infectious diseases associated with poverty,7 and the increasing burden of chronic diseases on lifestyle.8 All of these challenges, now exacerbated by the most severe global economic crisis since the 1930s, are likely to become even more urgent in the years ahead.9,10

We describe aspects of an increasingly unstable world and why the market-driven growth paradigm is insufficient to achieve improved global health. We then suggest a number of new ways of thinking that we believe should be adopted to improve global health.

About this resource
Author Solomon R. Benatar, DSc (Med), Stephen Gill, PhD, and Isabella Bakker, PhD
Type Article
Subject Global economy and health   
Tags economic   economics   
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