Date: Tue, 2 Dec 97 09:42:18 CST
From: rich@pencil (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: Globalization Poses Threat to Human Health Says WHO
Article: 23120

/** headlines: 109.0 **/
** Topic: Globalization Poses Threat to Human Health Says WHO **
** Written 7:29 AM Dec 1, 1997 by newsdesk in cdp:headlines **
/* Written 5:18 AM Nov 30, 1997 by in hrnet.development */
/* ————— “Globalization poses threat to human” ————— */

Globalization poses threat to human health—WHO (excerpts)

By Adam Jasser, Reuters, 19 November 1997

HELSINKI, Finland, 19.11.97 (Reuters): New and re-emerging diseases along with crumbling health care systems pose an increasing threat to human health around the globe, World Health Organization (WHO) experts said Wednesday.

The experts, meeting for a brain-storming session in Helsinki, called on governments to give higher priority to health spending and managing health systems as globalization exacerbated disparities between the rich and the poor.

“We have seen in the past few decades the most significant gains ever achieved in human health, but simultaneously the growth of enormous threats to health, particularly arising from an increase in absolute and relative poverty,” said Fernando Antezana, WHO's deputy director general.

He said threats to health…only governments could tackle included pollution and global warming—both seen to be capable of spreading tropical diseases to new areas in the world.

Problems were especially acute in developing countries where millions of people suffered from AIDS, malaria and resurging tuberculosis, Antezana said.

Malaria, which kills more people than AIDS, was a particularly neglected disease. “The world has so far not responded to malaria,” he said.

Up to four million people, mostly women and children in poor tropical countries, die of malaria each year. A vaccine against the mosquito-carried plague is still years away and research for it lags behind the quest for an AIDS cure.

Experts said health care for the less well-off was deteriorating even in the industrialized world.

“We see in many countries an extremely serious degeneration in health gains…we were all very proud of,” said a senior WHO official, John Martin.

Experts said health reforms in many countries were flawed by leaving too much to market forces. Radical overhauls were more likely to go wrong than slow reforms.

In the developing world, a focus on reforming economies and cutting government spending in order to allow countries to compete on global markets often led to neglect of health care.

“The pace of economic development has not been followed by adequate growth in health care,” said Java Torres-Goitia, a Bolivian health expert.

Experts said highly liberal economies were not an enemy of health care provided that governments assumed a strong regulatory role to ensure equal access to basic health services.

“You can have a liberal economy and efficient health care systems at the same time…as long as there is a strong role for the state in monitoring health care,” said Gillian Biscoe, executive director at Australia and New Zealand Health Management Network.

Experts said WHO's current priority was to formulate policy objectives for governments to help them to create sustainable health care systems for the next century.