A commentary on the WSSD from South Africa
Mohau Pheko, Gender and Trade in Africa

International Trade and Gender Network Bulletin, Volume 2, No. 7, July 2002

There are many opportunities and challenges facing women in the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development. Perhaps it is worth reflecting on the whole notion of what our forefathers and foremothers meant when they conceptualised what freedom and emancipation for the African people would mean to future generations in Africa.

The most common word we heard in terms of development during the independence explosion, and the fight to decolonise and kill apartheid in South Africa, was self-determination. Where has this discourse gone? What is the difference between sustainable development and self-determination? It is critical to reflect on this in order to locate the gender perspectives in the upcoming summit.

Self-determination is the right to determine our future, to shape it, nurture it in ways that reflect our desires, goals and aspirations as African people. Self-determination opens the space for us to innovate, experiment with new ideas, to fail and from these failures reconceptualise our destiny until it fulfils the vision we have as a people. The vision and hope of preserving the sky, the land, and placing adequate food for everybody to consume not just a few, security of body, mind and soul above everything a peaceful stable environment where everybody can earn a living. Some people call this idealism and are skeptical about attaining this equilibrium.

Sustainable development is a new term. It takes on different nuances depending on who happens to be articulating this concept. How do women fit into this agenda? What sort of development are we sustaining? Is this notion of sustainable development an environment that can promote gender equality?

In reading through the Chairperson’s text towards the summit on sustainable development a number of concerns arise. I want to flag just a few issues that need to be interrogated by gender activists in general and feminists specifically.

1. The concept of sustainable development as framed in for WSSD repositions development perspectives within economic globalisation. This is extremely problematic for women because research is emerging that women have experienced globalisation more negatively than other sectors of society. There is increased feminisation of poverty. Increased flexible labour among women and more women have entered the informal sector. The privatisation of services like water, electricity, healthcare and education has increased rather than decreased women’s work as more people fall through the social safety net. Repositioning development within globalisation introduces a new form of sustainability - sustaining poverty, not eradicating it, and sustaining debt relief, not debt cancellation.

2. The Chairperson’s text reinterprets sustainable development within the neoliberal trade paradigm and the liberalised trade system. This is happening with the background of Africa experiencing the worst terms of trade. For example, industrialised countries control 68.4% of global trade with 15% of the world population.

3. Developing countries control 27.5% of global trade with a world population of 75%. Africa’s share of this is 1.6% with 11% of world population. Africa produces the bulk of raw materials in the world. Women produce sugar, corn, coffee, cotton, tea and many other products yet, the prices of these products has declined steadily in terms of the way they are traded. It is not the producers who set the prices, but the stock exchange in London and New York. There is no access for women farmers to these institutions. Women have no power to negotiate the price of these products. The returns on their products in monetary terms are not sufficient to sustain livelihoods nor bring about development in the true sense.

It is critical to note that the repositioning of development in the WSSD also creates a relocation of development issues from the United Nations to other institutions. This is an important shift for gender activists to study. The World Bank and the World Trade Organisation specifically are the two institutions that are in explicit and implicit ways taking over the development agenda as we once knew it. Under the new term of global governance the World Trade Organisation in particular is attempting to take on issues of environment, labour, and agriculture to name a few. In the meantime, the World Bank is whittling away the power of the state through its’ policy advise. It is advising countries to privatise basic social services through, for example, introducing user fees to healthcare services and education. It is advising countries to sell water, electricity and telecommunications to the private sector. Using the efficiency argument it is convincing governments that the state has no capacity to provide basic services and that this function should be taken over by the private sector. After all, the World Bank claims the private sector has a tradition of running business more efficiently than governments and governments, it says, are corrupt. This dysfunctional ideology of placing profit before people’s development, and gender equality particularly reinforces the exclusionary manner in which the state treats women.

Linked to NEPAD, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, the new development framework offers the same market-oriented economies that are not compatible with the protection of women’s rights, nor do they promote gender equality in Africa. Framed with a neoliberal stance, this plan strengthens the principle of private property. African women have never had any entitlements under this paradigm. NEPAD, like the new development framework being put forth at the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development, does not address the social relations within the market in terms of women’s access to and control of resources in this space. The World Summit on Sustainable Development must be a space that allows for the self-determination of peoples and nation states and promotes sustainable development that incorporates human development and gender equality into its definition and implementation. However, as it currently stands the WSSD further pushes the Northern trade agenda and role of the International Financial Institutions while marginalizing the role of the United Nations. This process will further threaten national sovereignty and further marginalize women.

Why half the planet is hungry
Amartya Sen

Widespread hunger in the world is primarily related to poverty. It is not principally connected with food production at all. Indeed, over the course of the last quarter of a century, the prices of the principal staple foods (such as rice, wheat etc) have fallen by much more than half in 'real' terms. If there is more demand for food, in the present state of world technology and availability of resources, the production will correspondingly increase. The demand for food is restrained mainly by lack of income. And the same factor explains the large number of people who are hungry across the world. Given their income levels, they are not able to buy enough food, and as a consequence these people (including their family members) live with hunger.

But it is not adequate to look only at incomes. There is need to look also at the political circumstances that allow famine and hunger. If the survival of a government is threatened by the prevalence of hunger, the government has an incentive to deal with the situation. Incomes can be expanded both by policies that raise overall income and also by redistributive policies which provide employment, and thus tackle one of the principal reasons for hunger (to wit, unemployment in a country without an adequate social security system). In democratic countries, even very poor ones, the survival of the ruling government would be threatened by famine, since elections are not easy to win after famines; nor is it easy to withstand criticism of opposition parties and newspapers. That is why famine does not occur in democratic countries. Unfortunately, there are a great many countries in the world which do not yet have democratic systems.

Indeed, as a country like Zimbabwe ceases to be a functioning democracy, its earlier ability to avoid famines in very adverse food situations (for which Zimbabwe had an excellent record in the 1970s and 1980s) becomes weakened. A more authoritarian Zimbabwe is now facing considerable danger of famine. Alas, hunger in the non-acute form of endemic under-nourishment often turns out to be not particularly politically explosive. Even democratic governments can survive with a good deal of regular under-nourishment. For example, while famines have been eliminated in democratic India (they disappeared immediately in 1947, with Independence and multi-party elections), there is a remarkable continuation of endemic under-nourishment in a non-acute form. Deprivation of this kind can reduce life expectancy, increase the rate of morbidity, and even lead to under-development of mental capacities of children. If the political parties do not succeed in making endemic hunger into a politically active issue, hunger in this non-acute form can go on even in democratic countries.

What should rich countries do, and is trade liberalisation the answer?

The rich countries can do a great deal to reduce hunger in the world. First, the displacement of democracies in poor countries, particularly in Africa, often occurred during the Cold War with the connivance of the great powers. Whenever a military strongman displaced a democratic government, the new military dictatorship tended to get support from the Soviet Union (if the new military rulers were pro-Soviet) or from the United States and its allies (if the new rulers were anti-Soviet and pro-West). So there is culpability on the part of the dominant powers in the world, given past history, and there is some responsibility now for rich countries to help facilitate the expansion of democratic governance in the world.

Second, hunger is related to low income and often to unemployment. Poverty could be very substantially reduced if the richer countries were more welcoming to imports from poorer countries, rather than shutting them out by tariff barriers and other exclusions. Fairer trade can reduce poverty in the poor countries (as the recent Oxfam report Rigged Rules, Double Standards discusses in detail). Third, there is a need for a global alliance not just to combat terrorism in the world, but also for positive goals, such as combating illiteracy and reducing preventable illnesses that so disrupt economic and social lives in the poorer countries. Trade liberalisation on the part of the richer countries could certainly make a difference to employment and income prospects of poorer countries. The situation is a little more complex in the case of liberalisation of the poorer countries. Even those countries which have greatly benefited from the expansion of world trade (such as South Korea or China) often went through a phase of protecting industries before vigorous expansion of exports and trade. So, trade liberalisation is partly an answer, but the economic steps involved have to be carefully assessed: the policies cannot be driven by simple slogans.

What is the solution?

There is no 'magic bullet' to deal with the entrenched problem of hunger in the world. It requires political leadership in encouraging democratic governments in the world, including support for multi-party elections, open public discussions, elimination of press censorship, and also economic support for independent news media and rapid dissemination of information and analysis. It also requires visionary economic policies which both encourage trade (especially allowing exports from poorer countries into the markets of the rich), but also reforms (involving patent laws, technology transfer etc.) to dramatically reduce deprivation in the poorer countries. The problem of hunger has to be seen as being embedded in larger issues of global poverty and deprivation.

Countries of the South increasingly seek food self-sufficiency. Could this solve the problem of hunger and starvation?

Food self-sufficiency is a peculiarly obtuse way of thinking about food security. There is no particular problem, even without self-sufficiency, in achieving nutritional security through the elimination of poverty (so that people can buy food) and through the availability of food in the world market (so that countries can import food if there is not an adequate stock at home). The two problems get confused, because many countries which are desperately poor also happen to earn most of their income from food production. This is the case, for example, for many countries in Africa. But if these countries were able to produce a good deal of income (for example through diversification of production, including industrialisation), they can become free of hunger even without producing all the food that is needed for domestic consumption. The focus has to be on income and entitlement, and the ability to command food rather than on any fetishist concern about food self-sufficiency.

There are situations in which self-sufficiency is important, such as during wars. At one stage in the Second World War, there was a real danger of Britain not being able to get enough food into the country. But that is a very peculiar situation, and we are not in one like that now, nor are we likely to be in the near future. The real issue is whether a country can provide enough food for its citizens - either from domestic production or imports or both - and that is a very different issue from self-sufficiency. We have to look at ways and means of eliminating poverty, and to undertake the economic, social and political processes that can achieve that.

Amartya Sen, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998, is Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. This is a longer version of an article, expanded by the author, that appeared in Le Monde

Municipal Services Project Conference: A Report
Rene Loewenson/Thumida Maistry, Equinet

A recent conference hosted by the Municipal Services Project in Johannesburg highlighted a growing tide of defiance from people around South Africa over privatisation and its impact on access to basic services. People travelled from all parts of South Africa to testify in the workshop on their experiences of hardship as a result of privatisation and unaffordable service costs, noting stories of evictions, and water and electricity cut offs. Most of these testimonies articulated the view that basic needs, such as water and electricity, are basic rights. Many highlighted the negative impact of reduced access to basic services such as water supplies on health and quality of life.

Among the delegates were representatives of non government organisations (NGO’s), academics, community based organisations (CBOs), and unionists. They consistently raised the constraints to service delivery under globalisation, privatisation and cost recovery measures, and their negative health impacts. Eddie Cottle of the Rural Services Development Network reported, for example, on the link between the cholera outbreak in South Africa and the introduction of user fees for water.

During the workshops, delegates discussed strategies to address the issue. Would a rights based approach or one centred on claiming legal redress for deprivation of basic rights be successful? Glen Farred from the Community Legal Centre noted that while the establishment of a constitution and a bill of rights provided certain opportunities, They were difficult to apply in the case of access to safe water. The meeting identified the need for a new wave of social mobilisation as being more important than legal battles in achieving constitutional rights around basic services.

The impact of foreign intervention in basic services was also explored. It was noted that the world’s water management continues to be taken up by foreign companies. Large dam projects funded by international finance institutions were also reported to undermine service access in poor communities. Medha Patkar from the Narmada valley India reported at the meeting on the struggle of people in the catchment area of one such large dam to stop the dam from being built. This dam was reported to be threatening 40 000 families, with thousands more homes reported to have been submerged since construction began. She described passionately the irreversible loss of a way of life, livelihood and wellbeing for indigent people and said globalisation, privatisation, and centralised management of the world’s natural resources made humanity itself one of the greatest threats to itself.

Patkar and others noted that the response to such challenges called for a social movement, able to strategise, resisting co-option by international agencies and able to resist neoliberal policies. Some role models were presented of health systems arising out of social movements, such as Daniel Chavez’s description of Porto Allegro, where strong mechanisms exist for citizen participation in municipal affairs.

The conference explored how such social forces for health are organised – and growing. Community struggles around access to basic services were seen to be snowballing, particularly when they have support from social movements around the world. More well established movements, like the youth activists and organised labour all noted their roles internationally in targeting access to serves and in building alliances with other community based organisations.

A growing social movement to pressure for basic services was thus seen as the greatest predictor of service cover. This was particularly the case as neoliberal forces have grown. As Yash Tandon noted:
“At Doha first world countries recaptured the gains won in Seattle through pressure and manipulation and aggressive tactics. The outcome was the pursuit of neoliberalism such that the markets must be opened to international competitors even for public goods. “

Market policies and inequitable development were viewed as primary threats to increasing cover of basic services. This drew attention to the potential impact of the proposed new African recovery plan - NEPAD - on access to basic services. Delegates observed features within NEPAD, including its commitment to deepen neoliberal market policies, that are likely to have negative effects for basic service access and generate increased social conflict over access to water, electricity and other basic rights. Whether poor communities obtain or lose access to safe water and electricity will certainly be one litmus test of whether NEPAD brings real recovery for African households.

Hazardous to Health: The World Bank and IMF in Africa
Action Position Paper

Ann-Louise Colgan, Research Associate, Africa Action April, 2002.
Health is a fundamental human right, recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and the Constitution of the World Health Organization (1946). Health is also an essential component of development, vital to a nation's growth and internal stability. Over the past two decades, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have undermined Africa's health through the policies they have imposed. The dependence of poor and highly indebted African countries on World Bank and IMF loans has given these institutions leverage to control economic policy-making in these countries. The policies mandated by the World Bank and IMF have forced African governments to orient their economies towards greater integration in international markets at the expense of social services and long-term development priorities. They have reduced the role of the state and cut back government expenditure.

While many African countries succeeded in improving their health care systems in the first decades after independence, the intervention of the World Bank and IMF reversed this progress. Investments in health care by African governments in the 1970s achieved improvements in key health indicators. In Kenya, for example, child mortality was reduced by almost 50% in the first two decades after independence in 1963 [1]. Across sub-Saharan Africa, the first decades after independence saw significant increases in life expectancy, from an average of 44 years to more than 50 years [2].

In the 1980s and 1990s, however, African governments had to cede control over their economic decision-making in order to qualify for World Bank and IMF loans. The conditions attached to these loans undid much of the progress achieved in public health. The policies dictated by the World Bank and IMF exacerbated poverty, providing fertile ground for the spread of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. Cutbacks in health budgets and privatization of health services eroded previous advances in health care and weakened the capacity of African governments to cope with the growing health crisis. Consequently, during the past two decades the life expectancy of Africans has dropped by 15 years [3].

Africa Action calls for an end to World Bank and IMF policies that undermine health. This requires canceling the debts that prevent African governments from making their full contribution to addressing the health crisis. It also requires ending the imposition of harmful economic policies as conditions for future loans or grants. This position paper provides a brief background overview of World Bank and IMF policies. It focuses particularly on their impact on health.

1. The World Bank and IMF in Africa The World Bank and IMF were created at the Bretton Woods Conference in New Hampshire, U.S.A., in 1944. They were designed as pillars of the post-war global economic order. The World Bank's focus is the provision of long-term loans to support development projects and programs. The IMF concentrates on providing loans to stabilize countries with short-term financial crises. The World Bank and IMF became increasingly powerful in Africa with the economic crisis of the early 1980s. In the late 1970s, rising oil prices, rising interest rates, and falling prices for other primary commodities left many poor African countries unable to repay mounting foreign debts. In the early 1980s, Africa's debt crisis worsened. The ratio of its foreign debt to its export income grew to 500% [4]. African countries needed increasing amounts of "hard currency" to repay their external debts (i.e.
convertible foreign currencies such as dollars and deutschmarks). But their share of world trade was decreasing and their export earnings dropped as global prices for primary commodities fell. The reliance of many African countries on imports of manufactured goods, which they themselves did not produce, left them importing more while they exported less. Their balance of payments problems worsened and their foreign debt burdens became unsustainable.

African governments needed new loans to pay their outstanding debts and to meet critical domestic needs. The World Bank and IMF became key providers of loans to countries that were unable to borrow elsewhere. They took over from wealthy governments and private banks as the main source of loans for poor countries. These institutions provided "hard currency" loans to African countries to insure repayment of their external debts and to restore economic stability. The World Bank and IMF were important instruments of Western powers during the Cold War in both economic and political terms. They performed a political function by subordinating development objectives to geostrategic interests. They also promoted an economic agenda that sought to preserve Western dominance in the global economy. Not surprisingly, the World Bank and IMF are directed by the governments of the world's richest countries. Combined, the "Group of 7" (U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan)
hold more than 40% of the votes on the Boards of Directors of these institutions. The U.S. alone accounts for almost 20% [5]. It was U.S. policy during the Reagan Administration in the early
1980s, to expand the role of the World Bank and IMF in managing developing economies [6]. The dependence of African countries on new loans gave the World Bank and IMF great leverage. The conditions attached to these loans required African countries to submit to economic changes that favored "free markets." This standard policy package imposed by the World Bank and IMF was termed "structural adjustment." This referred to the purpose of correcting trade imbalances and government deficits. It involved cutting back the role of the state and promoting the role of the private sector. The ideology behind these policies is often labeled "neo-liberalism," "free market fundamentalism,"or the "Washington Consensus." From the 1970s on, this orientation became the dominant economic paradigm for rich country governments and for the international financial institutions. The basic assumption behind structural adjustment was that an increased role for the market would bring benefits to both poor and rich. In the Darwinian world of international markets, the strongest would win out. This would encourage others to follow their example. The development of a market economy with a greater role for the private sector was therefore seen as the key to stimulating economic growth. The crisis experienced by African countries in the early 1980s did expose the need for economic adjustments. With declining incomes and rising expenses, African economies were becoming badly distorted. Corrective reforms became increasingly necessary. The key issue with adjustments of this kind, however, is whether they build the capacity to recover and whether they promote long-term development. The adjustments dictated by the World Bank and IMF did neither.

African countries require essential investments in health, education and infrastructure before they can compete internationally. The World Bank and IMF instead required countries to reduce state support and protection for social and economic sectors. They insisted on pushing weak African economies into markets where they were unable to compete with the might of the international private sector. These policies further undermined the economic development of African countries.
2. What is Structural Adjustment? Structural adjustment refers to a package of economic policy changes designed to fix imbalances in trade and government budgets.
In trade, the objective is to improve a country's balance of payments, by increasing exports and reducing imports. For budgets, the objective is to increase government income and to reduce expenses. In theory, achieving these goals will enable a country to recover macroeconomic stability in the short-term. It will also set the stage for long-term growth and development. The structural adjustment programs of the early 1980s were meant to provide temporary financing to borrowing countries to stabilize their economies. These loans were intended to enable governments to repay their debts, reduce deficits in spending, and close the gap between imports and exports. Gradually, these loans evolved into a core set of economic policy changes required by the World Bank and IMF. They were designed to further integrate African countries into the global economy, to strengthen the role of the international private sector, and to encourage growth through trade. Typical components of adjustment programs included cutbacks in government spending, privatization of government-held enterprises and services, and reduced protection for domestic industry. Other types of adjustment involved currency devaluation, increased interest rates, and the elimination of food subsidies. The underlying intention was to minimize the role of the state.

World Bank and IMF adjustment programs differ according to the role of each institution. In general, IMF loan conditions focus on monetary and fiscal issues. They emphasize programs to address inflation and balance of payments problems, often requiring specific levels of cutbacks in total government spending. The adjustment programs of the World Bank are wider in scope, with a more long-term development focus. They highlight market liberalization and public sector reforms, seen as promoting growth through expanding exports, particularly of cash crops. Despite these differences, World Bank and IMF adjustment programs reinforce each other. One way is called "cross-conditionality." This means that a government generally must first be approved by the IMF, before qualifying for an adjustment loan from the World Bank. Their agendas also overlap in the financial sector in particular. Both work to impose fiscal austerity and to eliminate subsidies for workers, for example. The market-oriented perspective of both institutions makes their policy prescriptions complementary.

Adjustment lending constitutes 100% of IMF loans. In 2001, approximately 27% of World Bank lending to African countries was for "adjustment." In the World Bank's total loan portfolio, adjustment lending generally accounts for between one-third and one-half [7]. The remainder of World Bank loans are disbursed for development projects and programs. The project portfolio of the Bank covers such areas as infrastructure, agricultural and environmental development, and human resource development. In some cases, the projects supported by World Bank loans do make useful contributions to development. But these occasional successes must be weighed against the negative effects of increasing debt, imposed economic policies and their consequences. The past two decades of World Bank and IMF structural adjustment in Africa have led to greater social and economic deprivation, and an increased dependence of African countries on external loans. The failure of structural adjustment has been so dramatic that some critics of the World Bank and IMF argue that the policies imposed on African countries were never intended to promote development. On the contrary, they claim that their intention was to keep these countries economically weak and dependent. The most industrialized countries in the world have actually developed under conditions opposite to those imposed by the World Bank and IMF on African governments. The U.S. and the countries of Western Europe accorded a central role to the state in economic activity, and practiced strong protectionism, with subsidies for domestic industries. Under World Bank and IMF programs, African countries have been forced to cut back or abandon the very provisions which helped rich countries to grow and prosper in the past. Even more significantly, the policies of the World Bank and IMF have impeded Africa's development by undermining Africa's health. Their free market perspective has failed to consider health an integral component of an economic growth and human development strategy. Instead, the policies of these institutions have caused a deterioration in health and in health care services across the African continent.

3. Poverty and Health Care Cuts Health status is influenced by socioeconomic factors as well as by the state of health care delivery systems. The policies prescribed by the World Bank and IMF have increased poverty in African countries and mandated cutbacks in the health sector. Combined, this has caused a massive deterioration in the continent's health status.

The health care systems inherited by most African states after the colonial era were unevenly weighted toward privileged elites and urban centers. In the 1960s and 1970s, substantial progress was made in improving the reach of health care services in many African countries. Most African governments increased spending on the health sector during this period. They endeavored to extend primary health care and to emphasize the development of a public health system to redress the inequalities of the colonial era. The World Health Organization (WHO) emphasized the importance of primary healthcare at the historic Alma Ata Conference in 1978. The Declaration of Alma Ata focused on a community-based approach to health care and resolved that comprehensive health care was a basic right and a responsibility of government. These efforts undertaken by African governments after independence were quite successful. There were increases in the numbers of health professionals employed in the public sector, and improvements in health care infrastructure in many countries. There was also some success in extending care to formerly unserved areas and populations. Across the continent, there were improvements in key health care indicators, such as infant mortality rates and life expectancy. In Zambia, the post-independence government expanded public health care services throughout the country. The number of doctors and nurses was also significantly increased during this time. Infant mortality was reduced from 123 per 1,000 live births in 1965, to 85 in 1984 [8]. In Tanzania, during the first two decades of independence, the government succeeded in expanding access to health care nationwide. By 1977, more than three-quarters of Tanzania's population lived within 5 km of a health care facility [9]. While the progress across the African continent was uneven, it was significant, not only because of its positive effects on the health of African populations. It also illustrated a commitment by African leaders to the principle of building and developing their health care systems.

With the economic crisis of the 1980s, much of Africa's economic and social progress over the previous two decades began to come undone. As African governments became clients of the World Bank and IMF, they forfeited control over their domestic spending priorities. The loan conditions of these institutions forced contraction in government spending on health and other social services. Poverty and Health The relationship between poverty and ill-health is well established. The economic austerity policies attached to World Bank and IMF loans led to intensified poverty in many African countries in the 1980s and 1990s. This increased the vulnerability of African populations to the spread of diseases and to other health problems. The public sector job losses and wage cuts associated with World Bank and IMF programs increased hardship in many African countries. During the 1980s, when most African countries came under World Bank and IMF tutelage, per capita income declined by 25% in most of sub-
Saharan Africa [10]. The removal of food and agricultural subsidies caused prices to rise and created increased food insecurity. This led to a marked deterioration in nutritional status, especially among women and children. In Zambia, for instance, following the elimination of food subsidies, many poor families had to reduce the number of meals per day from two to one [11]. Malnutrition resulted in low birth weights among infants and stunted growth among children in many countries. It is currently estimated that one in every three children in Africa is underweight [12]. In general, between one-quarter and one-third of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is chronically malnourished. The deepening poverty across the continent has created fertile ground for the spread of infectious diseases. Declining living conditions and reduced access to basic services have led to decreased health status. In Africa today, almost half of the population lacks access to safe water and adequate sanitation services [13]. As immune systems have become weakened, the susceptibility of Africa's people to infectious diseases has greatly increased. A joint release issued by the WHO and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in April 2001 reports that the number of cases of tuberculosis in Africa will reach 3.3 million per year by 2005 [14]. The WHO reported in 2001 that almost 3,000 Africans die each day of malaria. Each year in Africa, the disease takes the lives of more than 500,000 children below the age of five [15]. Most devastating of all has been the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa has been facilitated by worsening poverty and by the conditions of inequality intensified by World Bank and IMF policies. Economic insecurity has reinforced migrant labor patterns, which in turn have increased the risk of infection. Reduced access to health care services has increased the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and the vulnerability to HIV infection.

Further details: /newsletter/id/29143
Health – a global public good?
IPHN bulletin Number 10: March 2002

The World Health Organisation is calling for a massive investment by the rich governments of the world into the health of the world’s poor. This is the conclusion of a report by the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health (CMH, 2001a), launched in London on 20.12.01. The report calls for an increased investment in health of US$27 billion per year by the year 2007. It is estimated that such an investment would save 8 million lives per year. Speaking at the launch, Jeffrey Sachs, the Commission’s chair reported that the new Global Fund for AIDS, TB and malaria (see IPHN bulletin 8 http://www.iphn.org/bulletin8.html) could be one of several vehicles for delivering such funds, delivering perhaps up to 30% of the total fund needed. He said, “We need to bankrupt the Global Fund as soon as possible to demonstrate that poor countries have the absorptive capacity and to force the US government to act.” This argument has strong similarities with calls from the United Nations Development Programme [UNDP] for health to be considered a ‘global public good’ (Kaul et al., 1999). The Commission itself refers to global public goods and defines them as ‘goods whose characteristics of publicness (nonrivalry in consumption and nonexcludability of benefits) extend to more than one set of countries or more than one geographic regions (CMH, 2001a, p.190).’ One of the six working groups was specifically focused on the subject of global public goods for health (CMH, 2001a, p.151 – see http://www.cmhealth.org/wg2.htm). A particularly strong emphasis in the commission’s report was on the status of health knowledge and information as a global public good (CMH, 2001a, pp.76-86).

What are Public Goods?

The concept of dividing goods into ‘public’ and ‘private’ goods arises from classical economics and can be dated back to the 18th century. According to this concept, characteristics of public goods include:

· Non-rivalry in consumption which means that one person’s use of a good does not prevent another person from using it (Kaul et al, 1999). This is termed by some as non-divisibility (Chen et al, 1999)

· Non-excludability, i.e. use of item is available to all people/groups of people (Kaul et al, 1999)

· Non-rejectability, individuals are unable to choose to forego consumption (Preker et al, 2000)

An example of a private good might be a piece of cake. If I eat it, no-one else can (i.e. it is rival). I may chose to share it with my friends, excluding others (i.e. excludable). I may choose not to eat cake (i.e. it is rejectable). On the other hand, traffic lights might be considered an example of a public good. My use of a traffic light does not prevent others from using it (i.e. it is non-rival). Traffic lights apply to all people (i.e. it is non-excludable) and it would be almost impossible to not use traffic lights (i.e. it is non-rejectable). Other examples of public goods might include peace, law and order and good macroeconomic management. However, this distinction between private and public goods is not always that clear cut. Although some goods might be purely private or purely public, there will be some that are mixed/impure. Goods which are non-rival amongst a certain group of people can be termed ‘club goods’ and those which are available to all but are rival can be termed ‘common pool resources’ (see figure 1). These ‘impure’ goods are more common than the pure type. Consequently, the term public good is often used to include both pure and impure public goods (i.e. the shaded area in figure 1 ) (Kaul et al, 1999). Commonly, five sectors of public goods can be identified, namely environment, health, governance, security and knowledge (Te Velde, 2002).

According to neo-classical economic theory, attempting to provide pure public goods through competitive markets will lead to sub-optimal quality, quantity and price (Preker et al, 2000). Two reasons for this can be identified for this. First, individuals motivated by self-interest only will tend to ‘free ride’ concerning the provision of these goods. Secondly, individuals will tend to make sub-optimal decisions on these issues if those decisions are made in isolation from others. Effective provision of public goods requires co-operation and measures which promote communication and build trust (Kaul et al, 1999). What are Global Goods?

In many cases, it is assumed that responsibility for provision of public goods rests with the nation state. However, there may be some cases where goods are global rather than national. Suggested criteria for deciding this include the requirement that global goods are quasi-universal in terms of:

· Countries, that is they involve more than one group · People, that is they involve several/all population groups, e.g. socio-economic groups, ethnic groups, gender, religion etc.

· Generations, that is they affect current and future generations In order to assess what kind of goods might be global in this regard, it may be useful to consider problems (i.e. global ‘bads’) which fulfil those criteria, for example banking crises, Internet crime and fraud, Ill-health due to increased trade and travel, drug abuse, smoking etc. (Kaul et al, 1999). Global public goods may be considered of two types. There are final global public goods which consist of desired outcomes and may be tangible, e.g. the environment or intangible, e.g. peace. For example, the World Bank recognizes five global public goods priorities, namely communicable diseases, environmental commons, information & knowledge, trade & integration and international financial architecture (World Bank, 2001). Secondly, there are intermediate global public goods which consist of international regimes, agreements and institutions which have the aim of delivering final global public goods. Examples might include frameworks for international transport and communication, health, the environment, demographics, judicial systems, human rights and macroeconomic policy (Kaul et al, 1999).

Is an Economics-based Definition of Global Public Goods Adequate?

So far, this paper has considered the concept of global public goods from the perspective of neo-classical economics. However, the validity of defining global public goods in this way has been challenged by some people. For example, Wolfgang Reinicke, Director of the Global Public Policy Project, an economist with long experience of working in the World Bank, said, “In most societies, the spectrum of public goods goes far beyond what a classic economic definition of joint consumption and non-excludability would capture. It is far more important for the members of each society to determine - in a transparent, democratic process - what is and what is not in the public interest (Reinicke, 2001).” Supplying Global Public Goods As seen earlier, classical economic theory predicts that competitive markets will provide public goods in a sub-optimal way. This leads to the problem of how public goods, in general and global public goods, in particular can be supplied. Two key factors have been identified in determining how sub-optimal provision through markets will be. These factors are the ‘degree of publicness’ of the goods and the number of beneficiaries. The latter factor is a particular problem for global public goods whose beneficiaries number billions and who are represented by more than 180 nation states. These states have their own self-interests and there are a diverse range of interest groups within the world’s population (Kaul et al, 1999). There is therefore a strong argument for international aid to be used to finance global public goods. Three building blocks for this argument are that:

· The private sector will not provide a sufficient amount of public goods · Individual countries have insufficient incentives to make an optimal contribution to global public goods because benefits do not accrue equally nationally · Poor countries lack the resources to make a full contribution to global public goods (Te Velde, 2002)

Increasingly, the World Bank is seen as a financing mechanism through which global public goods can be provided. The Global Environment Fund would be one such example and it has been proposed that the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria be administered in a similar way (Unknown, 2002). Global public policy networks are also seen as having an important role in the area of supply of global public goods because they bring together diverse interest groups and can address transnational issues which no single group can address alone. Examples include:

· Placing issues on the global agenda, e.g. landmines, Jubilee 2000 · Facilitating setting of global standards, e.g. World Commission on Dams · Developing mechanisms for producing/sharing critical knowledge, e.g. Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research [CGIAR] · Creating markets where they are lacking, e.g. GAVI · Developing mechanisms for innovative implementation , e.g. Global Environment Facility · Creating trust and promote participation - reducing democratic deficit – an example of what happens when this fails would be the demonstrations in Seattle and against the workings of the World Bank (Reinicke, 2001).

Is health a global public good?

Traditionally, diseases can be divided into three groups, communicable diseases, communicable diseases and injuries. Because treatment of infectious diseases produces benefits to people other than those treated (termed positive externalities by economists), the control of communicable diseases has been widely considered a public good. However, because most of the determinants of non-communicable disease appear to be individual lifestyle choices, e.g. diet, tobacco use, exercise etc. treatment of these diseases is widely seen as a private good (Chen et al, 1999). However, applying strict classical economic criteria to health goods would result in very few being considered ‘pure public goods’ because most have some degree of excludability, rivalry and rejectability. For example, a vaccine given to one person is not available for another and people may choose not to be vaccinated (Preker etal, 2000).

However, even if health is accepted as a public good, much of it is likely to be seen as a national public good rather than one with global implications. For example, Te Velde considers primary health care as a national public good and only the prevention of disease spread across borders as a global public good (Te Velde, 2002). However, others have argued that health has become much more of a global public good because of a number of influences of globalization. First, increased international linkages through trade, migration and information flows not only provide opportunity for cross-border transmission of infectious agents but also allow ‘transmission’ of behavioural and environmental risks. Secondly, increased pressure on common-pool global resources, e.g. air and water, brings its own threats (Chen et al, 1999). Examples of health effects which can be considered global public goods as a result of globalization might include:

· Health effects of environmental change, e.g. global warming, ozone depletion, toxic waste disposal · Tobacco usage – this is not only influenced by individual behaviour but by global marketing campaigns · Illicit drug use – globalization has made control of drug trafficking more difficult (Chen et al, 1999)

However, all these issues are based on the same logic as focusing on the cross-border transmission of infectious disease as a global public good, namely that the causes and effects of disease, particularly in an era of globalization, are not limited to national boundaries and need to be approached on a global level. Another logic for considering health as a global public good can be considered in terms of the global imperative for poverty reduction (Te Velde, 2002). This is being used by a number of politicians as a basis for investment in health and development, for example Gordon Brown, the UK’s Finance Minister. The basis of this argument is that investment in health is a key element of an effective poverty reduction strategy and reducing poverty in poorer countries is essential if conflict is to be reduced, communicable disease controlled and environmental damage minimized. In a presentation to the UK Health and Development Forum in London in February 2002, a WHO economist distinguished between ‘health as a global public good’ and ‘global public goods for health’. For an area of health to be considered a global public good he explained that efforts to promote it would need to produce global health and economic benefits. On this basis, control of communicable disease, e.g. polio eradication is widely considered a global public good. On the other hand, there are many global public goods for health, that is global public goods which have health effects. Examples would include medical technologies, tobacco control and trade agreements. He also stressed the importance of ‘access goods’ – those goods which allow a person to benefit from a global public good. For example, a radio allows a person access to the radio waves which can be considered a global public good. He argued for health systems to be considered an access good in relation to many of the technological advances in health which could be considered global public goods (Woodward, 2002).

Conclusions It seems uncontroversial that certain aspects of health can be considered a global public good, particularly the control of infectious diseases which can spread across national borders. However, in an increasingly globalised world, it can be argued that, more and more, the cause and effects of disease are transnational. Finally, it can be argued that all of health should be considered a global public good because it is a key component of another global public good, poverty reduction, and because the global community has determined that it should so be considered. The report of the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health is not always explicit about the way it is interpreting health as a global public good. The main argument of the report is that rich countries should invest in the health of poorer countries as a way of supporting economic development and contributing to poverty alleviation. This is presumably of value to the international community and could therefore be considered a global public good. Some of this thinking is seen in statements associated with the commission which claim that controlling the diseases of the poor will promote political and social stability (CMH, 2001b). This is also seen in some of the quotes attributed to the Commissioners. For example, Manmohan Singh, a former Indian Finance Minister said, “We have an historical opportunity to combine and use resources and know-how to ensure better health and greater economic growth in just a couple of decades. If we want equity and security in our lifetime and for future generations, we cannot afford to miss this opportunity.” Takatoshi Kato of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi said, “We must begin to see development assistance more in terms of an investment in the future – in the protection of the global well-being, including peace, healthy populations, a healthy environment and a more equitable economic system (CMH, 2001c).” These statements clearly see investment in the health of poor people as contributing to a wide range of global public goods including equity, security, peace and a healthy environment. However, when the report refers explicitly to global public goods, it does so in a much more limited way, for example to refer to the work of global institutions (p.13) and the importance of health information and knowledge (pp.76-86) (CMH, 2001a).

UNDP is perhaps the lead agency in trying to promote a broadening of the concept of public goods to embrace all aspects of health, presumably in an attempt to encourage rich governments to provide additional non-aid funds for global health based on self-interest arguments. However, many NGOs have reservations about this approach. These reservations include:

· Concerns about pursuing arguments based on classical economic models · Fear of marginalizing more basic concepts such as equity and health as a human right · Fear of promoting inappropriate solutions, e.g. more stringent immigration controls as a way of controlling infectious disease · Fear of promoting vertical programmes · Risk of promoting northern agendas and further marginalizing country priorities · The confusing nature of the concepts and terms (Keith, 2002)

Discussion questions Is the concept of global public goods useful to us? How do we wish to define this? Do we see health as a global public good? On what basis do we come to that conclusion? Does this cover all aspects of health or just certain parts?

WTO, health and equity
Meri Koivusalo

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is concerned with equity and provides regulatory measures to maintain it; it is just not the kind of equity we mean when we talk about social equity or equity in health. The WTO concern with equity is that of trading services and goods, in which services and goods should be treated equally whether produced by multinational corporations or local communities as we have seen in the banana dispute settlement case. At a more general level the WTO social policies are based implicitly on a residualist model, where social policies are seen as poor relief rather than policies dealing with e.g. inequalities. Some agreements, such as the Agreement on Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), are also considerably biased towards the corporate sector and its needs.

The TRIPS positions reflected in the Doha declaration appear to be a step forward in compulsory licensing in comparison to the positions of the EU and the US some years ago. On the other hand the relevance of the Doha public health declaration - and its interpretation - in practice remains to be seen. Further debates around TRIPS concerning parallel importing, compulsory licensing and exports and differential pricing are also taking place in the TRIPS council. These results of these debates may show to what extent measures to address problems of access to pharmaceuticals have become a means of supporting corporate greed of the pharmaceutical industry via regulatory requests rather than means to address health needs.

In health TRIPS is important, but we can expect that the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) may become even more important. The WTO negotiations on the GATS are underway and pose many important questions both in terms of health services and equity as well as the possibilities to implement broad public policies e.g. regulatory prohibition of advertising of products hazardous to health. One example of the latter is a problem of health regulations and trade in advertising services. Those countries which have included advertising services under GATS commitments may have limited significantly their possibilities of regulating or prohibiting advertising of products hazardous to health. Many aspects of health services are also dealt with under other categories of services, such as professional or financial services. It is also important to note that while GATS is marketed as a regulatory agreement this regulatory role remains in the context of ensuring equity and equal treatment of service providers (NGOs/corporations - local/international). This regulatory role is thus concerned more about service provider interests than with social rights of citizens and equity in access to services.

Other matters relate to the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS). Important items in these discussions relate to the extent to which precautionary measures as well as public health policies can be seen as trade barriers of rich countries by poorer countries with high implementation costs to poorer countries. The problem is that these arguments may become means of down regulation in health protection rather than ensure that all countries have sufficient support and resources for implementation of the SPS Agreement. The Doha declaration also successfully broadened the trade agenda to include some new areas, such as competition and investments, to the WTO negotiation agenda. There are some concerns that the negotiations on the new areas may in practice be means for inclusion of aspects of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) to the WTO Agreements. These aspects could include such which could allow that in addition to countries also private sector corporations could be able to appeal to WTO dispute settlement.

In many ways health policies are easily undermined by corporate export and trade interests which are in practice an integral part of WTO negotiations. The WTO debates are thus biased towards the promotion of private sector interests. The usual emphasis on countries and their interests in trade policy debates also limits opportunities to see the common systematic health issues that affect most countries. While there is no point of taking all health matters to the WTO, it is a task for health activists to ensure that national and international health policies and measures to maintain equity are not compromised by trade policies.

Globalisation on trial: world health warning
David Legge, School of Public Health, La Trobe University, Australia

A high level WHO commission has warned the rich world that unless there is a dramatic increase in development assistance for health the legitimacy and stability of the current regime of global economic governance may be seriously threatened.

The WHO Commission on Macroeconomics and Health (CMH) was established by the Director-General of WHO in January 2000. The Commission was chaired by Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Harvard. It members and helpers included former ministers of finance, people from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation, the United Nations Development Program, the Economic Commission on Africa and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Commission was financially supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the UN Foundation and by the governments of the UK, Luxembourg, Ireland, Norway and Sweden. The CMH presented its final report to Dr Bruntland in December 2001.

The Commission set up six working groups, on: health, economic growth, and poverty reduction; international public goods for health; mobilisation of domestic resources for health; health and the international economy; improving health outcomes of the poor; development assistance and health.

WHO Director-General Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland welcomed the report of the WHO Commission on Macroeconomics and Health on December 20th 2001: "This report is a turning point," she said. "It will influence how development assistance is prioritized and coordinated in the years to come."

The Commission’s report is an important health policy statement. It may prove to be as significant as the 1993 World Bank Report, Investing in Health , in providing a ‘credible’ policy narrative proclaiming concern about the health of the poor while reconciling health development objectives with the continuing operation of a brutal and unfair global economic regime.

It is a difficult report to analyse. The argument is tortuous and selective in its use of evidence. For example, despite its commission about the relations between macro economics and health, there is no reference in the whole report to the population health progress of Cuba which has not been as closely integrated into the global economy as most developing countries (see Lobe, 2001). There is one reference only to Kerala where it is suggested that the excellent health outcomes achieved there may have been due to the adequacy of the water supply (page 122).

In places it stretches fact, logic and credulity to the point of combustion. More challenging is the task of interpreting the strategic purpose of the DG in commissioning the report and that of the members of the Commission in framing their presentation. It is clear that the report is meant to be read at several different levels.

It is a big report and is accompanied by dozens of working group reports. There is a lot of material to absorb and consider. This raises questions about how Third World governments, health activists, NGOs and academics might respond to the report.

This commentary is prepared as an initial contribution to (what I hope might develop as) a collaborative process of analysis involving health activists, practitioners and academics associated with the struggle for health in the Third World. We may not be able to match the resources available to the Commission but through an internet collaboration we can draw upon a wide range of expertise and experience in considering the Commission’s report and participating in the wider discussion which will unfold. (See accompanying notes about how this internet collaboration might operate.)

This commentary has three parts. In the first part I summarise the broad argument presented in the report. In the second part I discuss this argument exploring some of their assumptions of fact and movements of logic. Finally I explore the politics of the report; what is the subtext; what are the hidden messages; what were the strategic purposes and expectations of the DG and of the Commission?

This is a preliminary commentary, explicitly designed to stimulate a wider discussion and more broadly based analysis of the report. I am looking forward to hearing what other critics think about the report. I have not read all of the working papers and my judgements should be understood as tentative at this stage.

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We end the year, regrettably, with an apology to you all. Many (if not most) of you have not been receiving the newsletters for the last couple of months. Unfortunately we have experienced a number of problems related to a decision made by Kabissa, who have hitherto hosted our website, to move their server. As a result of this change, we were unable to transfer our domain name – equinet.org.zw – to the new server. To make matters worse, we have been happily proceeding with the production and distribution of the newsletter only to discover that, for reasons we were not able to fathom, mail was not being sent to you through the mail server.

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Firoze Manji


Joint Statement by Oxfam, Treatment Action Campaign, Consumer Project on Technology (CPT), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Health GAP NGOs which are treating people with AIDS and working to improve access to medicines say patents block affordable, easier-to-take medicines from reaching people who need them. This is in sharp contrast to a 17 October communication co-authored by Amir Attaran of the Harvard Center for International Development and Lee Gillespie-White of the International Intellectual Property Institute, "Do Patents for Antiretroviral Drugs Constrain Access to AIDS Treatment in Africa". The publication claims that "patents in Africa have generally not been a factor in either pharmaceutical economics and antiretroviral drug treatment access."

The findings of this paper have been extensively used by industry to back their claim that patents are not an issue. The pharmaceutical company Merck has also funded one of the authors.

The NGOs agree with the "special communication's" claim that many barriers impede access to health care in Africa, and support their call for international financial aid to fund antiretroviral treatment.

However, they believe that the data presented in the paper do not support the conclusions drawn, but actually shed light on the extent of patent barriers to treatment. In African countries, the most practical and sought after combinations include fixed dose medicines (2 drugs in one pill) and affordable non-nucleosides. The most popular combination of AZT/3TC is patented in 37 out of 53 countries and the only affordable non-nucleoside (nevirapine in generic form) is patented in 25 out of 53 countries.

Many of the non-patented drugs listed in the study, including some of the protease inhibitors, are not practical as first-line treatments in resource-poor settings because of side effects (which need to be monitored) and cumbersome dietary requirements. The study data show that patents are concentrated in countries where pharmaceutical markets are the largest. In South Africa, which has 4.7 million people living with HIV/AIDS and represents half of the pharmaceutical market in Africa, 13 out of 15 antiretroviral treatments are patent protected. In fact, half of the people with HIV/AIDS in Africa live in countries with significant patent barriers on antiretroviral drugs.

The authors claim that even if prices of patented ARVs come down, African countries cannot afford them. But since generic triple therapies can now cost as little as US$ 30 a month, significant numbers of individuals and employers can afford the treatment, if it were not for patents. Patented prices are still three times higher than generic prices. This means that for a given amount of international aid, three times as many people can be treated if generic production is allowed.

This misleading "communication" seems to be an attempt to sabotage a process initiated by the developing world, which seeks to ensure that patents will no longer be a barrier for access to medicines. A draft declaration calling for a pro-public health interpretation of TRIPS was put forward by 60 developing countries in the September 2001 TRIPS council session on access to medicines. The declaration, signed by 41 African nations, states that "nothing in the TRIPS agreements shall prevent members from taking measures to protect public health." The declaration, which will be considered at the next WTO ministerial conference, has been opposed by the United States, Switzerland, Japan and Canada.

If nothing changes, beginning in 2006, all WTO Members will be obligated to grant twenty-year minimum patents for medicines. For this reason, it is critical that the false conclusions drawn from the data do not lead people to believe that patents are not an issue in access to life-saving medicines.

Special Issue on Globalisation, Equity and Health

This issue of Equinet is dedicated to covering some of the recent research and comment on the complex issue of globalisation and equity in health. Recent events signal that health has gained some profile as a global issue, whether in relation to the deliberations and campaigns around World Trade Organisation provisions on intellectual property rights and access to essential drugs, or in relation to the United Nations launch up of the Global Health Fund.

There are many questions about the impact of such initiatives in dealing with the real impact of globalisation on health, and its potential – or otherwise - to deliver greater equity in health. The conflict over TRIPS has highlighted contradictions between free trade provisions and access to existing technologies for health. Questions exist of how far a Global Health Fund addresses or diverts attention from the economic policies that generate the debt, poverty and marginalisation that produces a major share of the global burden of disease. As Fran Baum has written recently in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health "Can you imagine a world in which the spread of globalisation meant the world becoming a more just and equitable place? This seems like an impossible dream. All the indications are that the current forms of globalisation are making the world a safe place for unfettered market liberalism and the consequent growth of inequities. This economic globalisation is posing severe threats to both people's health and the health of the planet” (1).

There is debate on the health impacts of globalisation: David Dollar, in a recent World Health Organisation Bulletin on health and globalisation argues that economic globalisation has raised the incomes of poor countries, and that this has generally benefited poor people. Others argue that while globalisation has brought economic growth-promoting potential, these benefits have been restricted to a small number of countries, and have left the majority of developing countries excluded or even negatively effected by such growth potential. (2).

There is perhaps more wide consensus that changes are required to ensure that health outcomes are factored more centrally within globalisation processes. This means providing for measures to promote and protect health in globalisation as global public goods, and not as market or aid. It also means not waiting to act on those areas where health burdens are already accumulating under global economic and trade processes - such as in transfer of tobacco risks to youth in developing countries, or in the shift towards more casual jobs that lack adequate social protection. Nick Drager and Robert Beaglehole point out in the editorial of a special World Health Organisation Bulletin on globalisation and health:

“Public health scientists are still in the early stages of gathering concrete evidence on the effects of globalisation on population health. This evidence is required to inform policies and actions to protect and promote the health of the poor. The productivity of this research would be improved if there was an agreed framework for considering the various mechanisms by which economic globalisation affects population health status… It is already evident, however, that policy measures are required to rectify the adverse effects of globalisation on health and strengthen the positive ones. Policy should be guided by the following principles:(i) growth needs to be inclusive, equitable and sustainable, and this requires policy coherence between economic, social and environment sectors; (ii) opening up of borders should be gradual and preceded by appropriate protective conditions; (iii) international rules and institutions should promote the production of global public goods and the control of global public ‘‘bads’’; (iv) special attention is needed to increase the transfer of financial and technical resources to those left behind in the development process; (v) strong national health policies, institutions, regulations and programmes are essential; (vi) the public health workforce must be equipped with the knowledge and skills to engage with partners across sectors and across borders to achieve health and other social goals.” (3)

In the EQUINET September 2000 conference it was noted that during several decades of structural adjustment in southern Africa health scientists argued about the extent of negative impacts while populations became poorer, hungrier, more at risk of disease and less able to afford or access basic health services. By the time the negative impacts were acknowledged structural adjustment had been replaced by the much wider and more sweeping liberalisation and privatisation of the current phase of globalisation. Globalisation has increased the visibility and evidence of the global resources and opportunities available for health. This makes the contrast with the deprivation of such resources where they are most needed extremely stark.

1. Health, equity, justice and globalisation: some lessons from the People's Health Assembly. F Baum - J Epidemiol Community Health 2001;55:613-6. <a href=http://www.jech.com/cgi/content/full/55/9/613>http://www.jech.com/cgi/content/full/55/9/613</a>
2. Is globalization good for your health? David Dollar; Globalization and health: results and options; Giovanni Andrea Cornia. Bulletin of the World Health Organisation, Volume 79, Number 9, September 2001. <a href=http://www.who.int/bulletin/tableofcontents/2001/vol.79no.9.html>http://www.who.int/bulletin/tableofcontents/2001/vol.79no.9.html</a>
3. Editorial: Globalization: changing the public health landscape. Nick Drager & Robert Beaglehole. Bulletin of the World Health Organisation, Volume 79, Number 9, September 2001. <a href=http://www.who.int/bulletin/tableofcontents/2001/vol.79no.9.html>http://www.who.int/bulletin/tableofcontents/2001/vol.79no.9.html</a>