Health

Towards a Green Approach to Health Care: The Capitalist System vs. The Immune System, and the fight for free...

Mitchel Cohen
Brooklyn Greens / Green Party U.S.A.

The fight for free, universal health care is even more critical today than it was a decade ago when Hillary and Bill Clinton sacrificed it to the greed of the insurance companies and HMOs. Yes, health care must be made a right, not a privilege. But we would be remiss if we were to limit our platform to the fight to equalize access to health care delivery in the United States without also addressing the quality of that care, and what is causing so many people to be sick to begin with.

Public hospitals are reeling from the whip of privatization, and we must of course stay the hand that wields the whip; but, in reality, hospitals are little more than assembly-line butcher shops anyway in which drugs and invasive surgical procedures are prescribed as a matter of course by alleged experts schooled only in the reductionist constructs of western industrial medicine — helpful in acute emergencies, but devastating in terms of general public health.

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South African Politics, Inequalities, and HIV/AIDS: Applications for Public Health Education

Margaret Cunha
University of Massachusetts, U.S.

South Africa is home to 5 million of the total 45 million people living with HIV and AIDS. The enormity of the South African AIDS crisis is almost too great to imagine; except, the immense suffering demands that we pay attention.

We may consider the South African AIDS epidemic from a host of disciplines ranging from sociology to political science and, indeed, we would do well to discuss the problem in such an interdisciplinary manner. As a public health educator, I have begun a journey into various fields of study to improve upon and broaden my own approach to HIV/AIDS prevention.

The purpose of this paper is to discuss global capitalism’s influence on the politics of nations and, ultimately, the health of individuals. To accomplish this goal, I will describe the influence of neo-liberal policy on the economic and social structure of post-apartheid South Africa and examine how these structural conditions have lead to increased levels of poverty, social inequalities, and HIV/AIDS. Understanding these connections, I will provide recommendations for public health researchers and educators who continue often ignore established links between politics, inequalities, and health.

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Humanitarianism and Solidarity Cuban-Style

Cliff DuRand

It has been widely recognized that Cuba has a remarkably effective health care system for a relatively poor Third World country.  And this fact is becoming even more widely known thanks to Michael Moore’s documentary Sicko.  As a result, Cuba has health indicators comparable to its far more wealthy neighbor.  For example, life expectancy in Cuba is 77.5 years, in the U.S. it is 78.  Cuba’s infant mortality rate is 5.3 deaths among 1000 live births in the first year, whereas in the U.S. it is 6.9 [according to 2003 figures, the last year for which data have been compiled].  In Mississippi infant mortality is 11.4 and as high as 17 among Blacks, and rising.  In our nation’s capital, infant mortality is 14.4 among African Americans.  In Cuba on the other hand, out of 1000 births only 5.3 infants die in the first year of life, and basically the same low rate is found in every region and sector of the population, and continues to decline year after year.

Even the World Bank has had to acknowledge Cuba’s achievements in health and education.  The Bank’s 2001 edition of ‘World Development Indicators’ (WDI) showed Cuba as topping virtually all other poor countries in health and education statistics.  Former Bank President James Wolfensohn congratulated Cuba for doing “a great job” in providing for the social welfare of the Cuban people.

How is this possible?…

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Impact of Globalization & Liberalization on Women’s Health in India- Future Strategies

Kiran Soni Gupta

Abstract

The liberalization and globalization has impacted all areas of living setting in a chain of pervasive changes. The era of economic reforms in India since 1990 has had far reaching effects on issues of gender & society. Globalization is associated with free trade, free mobility of both financial and real capital, and rapid diffusion of products, technologies, and information and consumption patterns.

In a democracy, the greatest good of the greatest number is the accepted guiding principle. Social and economic inequality is detrimental to the health of any society. Especially when the society is diverse, multicultural, overpopulated and undergoing rapid but unequal economic growth. There are obviously tensions within classes and communities, and therefore what ensures good quality for one group may not do the same for others. Gender inequalities pervade through the entire spectrum of society. The socio- cultural determinants of women’s health have played a lead role in the persistence and strengthening of health inequalities. This paper attempts to review the effects of growing socio-economic inequality in Indian population and its effect on the healthcare system. It tries to identify the factors responsible for the difficulties in healthcare delivery in an unequal society and its effect on the health of a society.The primary challenge to health empowerment and socio-economic rights stems from poverty & underdevelopment.

The paper analyses the impact of globalization & liberalization on women’s health in the patriarchal Indian culture. It compares & contrasts both the positive and negative outcomes. It is written in Indian context from the women’s standpoint. The paper defines the concepts of globalization, the various structural adjustments & trends in the economic world & its interrelationship with the implications for women’s health in India . It then examines the processes whereby globalization impacts upon the health of women & summarizes the overall impact presenting strategies for future.

The women’s empowerment in the health sector needs to be redefined. The empowerment approach in health has to move beyond describing men and women’s health in isolation and brings into the analysis of how gender differences, exposure to risk, access to benefits of technology and health care, rights & responsibilities and the control exercised by people over their lives have been altered by globalization. The issue of sex ratio, son preferences, early marriage, poor health and nutrition, maternal mortality etc has been reviewed in the transitional Indian society.

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Medicalization: A Subtle Form of the Exploitation of Women

Daysi María Lugones
Cuba

translation by Otto and Sarah Begus, review by Rebecca Targ

The struggle for global justice demands that we identify all the battlefronts on which we have to wage sustained confrontation

The excessive medicalization of social problems is one of the fronts on which we, as women, are victims of manipulation and extreme social control 1. Examples of this are some forms of birth control, abortion, nursing, or death, illnesses or medical investigations, or perhaps the definition of feminine ailments as pharmacological problems.

The fact is that the world of medicine, in its plan to provide health-care, is not only directed towards health, but also towards market-oriented competitive norms,

- food and technologies-, which contribute an interpretative content to the behavioral rules of the societies in question: life-styles, customs, as well as to its political, juridical and ethical representation. The “Ivan Ilich” Study Center 2 has carried out work critical of the excessive functions of Western medicine, although it has not forcefully stressed their particular impact on women. In contemporary society all health services are regulated and directed towards ordering, classifying and making available certain controls for political and administrative reasons that at an earlier time were not considered part of medical competence. These actions began by turning professional certification into a vehicle of social adaptation, along with other criteria concerning duties and rights that disregard social as well as gender differences. There are, then, themes of special interest for the study of the health inequalities regarding gender; for example the impact of gender violence on the physical and mental health of women.

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