Report Condemns Inequitable Access to Health Care

Health is a function of wealth, and it always will be in the absence of universal health care. Setting aside the differing approaches taken by Barack Obama and John McCain to health care access, the broader problem of inequality extends far beyond American borders.

A report commissioned by the World Health Organization "finds a majority of people in the world do not enjoy good health because of a toxic combination of poor social policies, unfair economics and bad politics." The chairman of the commission that produced the report, Sir Michael Marmot, says:

"Between countries, we have life expectancy differences of more than 40 years. A woman in Botswana can expect to live 43 years, in Japan 86 years... That is unnecessary. There is no good biological reason why that is the case," he said. "It arises because of the social conditions in which people are born, they grow, they live, they work and they age. And, because of the set of economic arrangements, the values of society that are responsible for those conditions."

Health problems are compounded for girls and women in countries that limit their educational opportunities. [More ...]


"That is quite wrong. It is quite wrong. We know that education is a key driver of the health of those girls when they become women. And, it is a key determinant of the health of their children when they become mothers," he said. "That infant and child deaths could be reduced to a high degree by investing in the education of women."

Also wrong -- morally wrong -- are systems of health care distribution that regard good health as the privilege of those who can afford medical care.

Where systematic differences in health are judged to be avoidable by reasonable action they are, quite simply, unfair. It is this that we label health inequity. Putting right these inequities – the huge and remediable differences in health between and within countries – is a matter of social justice. Reducing health inequities is ... an ethical imperative. Social injustice is killing people on a grand scale.

Executive summary (40 page pdf)

The report and related information.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Yup (none / 0) (#1)
    by Wile ECoyote on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 05:38:03 AM EST
    Lets compare the economic policies of Botswana and Japan.  The more Free Market wins.

    They listed THREE influences (none / 0) (#3)
    by Fabian on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 07:54:56 AM EST
    poor social policies,
    unfair economics
    and bad politics

    Free market, in the absence of progressive social policies will still result in a massive deficit of health care to those unable to afford it.

    The free market loves the rich and ignores the poor.  It takes money to play in the free market, which is deceptively named.  


    Deceptively named indeed.... (none / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 09:43:07 AM EST
    Is it a free market when the wages of someone without health insurance are stolen via payroll deduction to pay for the health insurance for governement employees?

    Is it a free market when people are chained and caged for making a living selling illegal drugs?

    I'm curious as to whether the free market approach would work...but we've never had a free market to find out.  We've got a rigged market.


    Every government has an agenda (none / 0) (#5)
    by Fabian on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 10:24:55 AM EST
    Every government interferes in the markets to promote its agenda.

    In order to have a truly free market, you would have to remove government influence totally.  In reality, that would mean removing government - anarchy.  Unfortunately, every other competing nation/government would still regulate their markets in order to promote their welfare over any other nations, so a nation which had a truly free market would immediately be at a competitive disadvantage.

    In other words, a truly free market would be a short term phenomena, probably to be quickly taken over by entities with the resources to do so whether it be other nations or monolithic corporations.  Them that has the gold makes the rules.


    I'm a dreamer.... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 10:49:54 AM EST
    and a big fan of Thoreau....

    I heartily accept the motto-"That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which  also I believe-"That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.

    I believe too Henry...and dream to live to see us become prepared for that day.


    Market is not the issue (none / 0) (#7)
    by elmey on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 04:39:30 PM EST
    I'm not sure why you're bringing free markets into this.  Japan has universal health insurance.  So does Cuba. I believe Botswana has a free market economy.  The point is the inequitable distribution of healthcare both internationally and within countries.  We need to care enough to do better.

    The masses (none / 0) (#2)
    by magisterludi on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 07:49:10 AM EST
    must be kept stupid and short-lived. Helps reduce "the surplus population", along with war. Simply a form of population control, field-tested and approved by the Big Giant Heads.

    Lovely world we live in, isn't it?