Understanding the dynamics of health financialization

With each passing day, we’re learning more about the coronavirus and the disease it causes, Covid-19. The pandemic has had profound effects on daily life across much of the globe, but there is an opportunity that cannot be missed. The Covid19 shockwave is perhaps the first time event that has allowed the public opinion of the planet to understand the importance of public health systems and the pivotal role of health in any given decent societal organization that has a plan for the future.

The right to health has been under furious attacks for too long now, in the global South and in the global North alike. In the name of neoliberal ideologies, and often in the name of debt repayment, the development of public health systems in the global South has been stubbornly opposed for decades by the international financial institutions. A political responsibility that has determined a huge toll in terms of health, and the lives of billions of people. Most low and middle income countries are bare-handed, in their effort to control and curb the new coronavirus today. Particularly through the WTO agenda, a very thriving healthcare industry has been shaped in the last decades, as the introduction of global trade rules has come to impact health to a wide extent, progressively transforming this crucial human rights domain into a marketable commodity, for the very healthy business of a few. Monopoly rights have reduced access to essential medicines and transformed drugs into financial derivatives. Years of spending cuts due to fiscal austerity policies also have undermined public health provisioning in developed economies, so that health systems have been dismantled and broken to pieces in Europe, the cradle of welfare systems, just as well.

The Covid19 pandemic has brought the multiple systemic inefficiencies of today’s globalization to surface. The virus may well be humankind’s global crisis, but it is also its unexpected opportunity. There is indeed an urgent need for people’s movements to converge around a common agenda for taking back our economies, reclaiming public services and protect natural resources. The decisions that people and governments will make in the next few months will probably define the world for years to come.  In this brief report we focus on the penetration of private finance into the social arena of health, at global and country level, alongside the expansion of privately owned healthcare infrastructures and voluntary health insurance schemes. Focus on health financialization is urgent.

Read more - Spotlight on Financial Justice - Health