UCL News


Global Health Watch 2

16 October 2008


ghwatch.org/index.php" target="_self">Global Health Watch 2
  • UCL Institute for Global Health
  • Medact
  • GEGA
  • People's Health Movement
  • Zed Books
  • Civil society organisations and scientists will call for radical change in global approaches to climate change, poverty, inequality and poor health in a major book to be officially launched at UCL this week.

    Global Health Watch 2 is a successor to an attempt three years ago to provide an alternative to the World Health Report that would place global health in its global social, political and economic context.

    More than 100 authors address a wide range of issues over 20 chapters, with a large focus on official aid programmes, including a dedicated chapter on the United States foreign assistance programme for global health; the Gates Foundation; the World Bank; and the Global Fund; and the World Health Organisation. The launch has been organised by the UCL Institute for Global Health.

    The book criticises the impact of what the authors describe as a "divisive and destructive" form of globalisation, the rise of a "harmful" neoliberal doctrine, multinational corporations' growth in power and wealth, the threat of global warming and the erosion of multilateralism.

    The first Global Health Watch was developed in 2005 by the People's Health Movement, GEGA and Medact and the latest report brings the picture right up to date.

    It argues that despite health rising higher on the agenda and development assistance for health up from $2.5bn in 1990 to almost $14 billion in 2005, hundreds of millions of people still lack access to basic essential health care and more people live in poverty than ever before.

    The report calls on governments to stop the World Bank from meddling in health politics and highlights the pressure exerted on the World Health Organization by powerful and vested interests that would prefer WHO's activities and programme to have a more biomedical and less political focus.

    Amit Sengupta of the People's Health Movement in India said the impact of the WHO's activities on the health systems of poor countries has been "largely negative."

    She added: "Internationally, it has also contributed to the uncoordinated circus of health sector policy-making that makes it difficult for Ministries of Health to function."

    At its heart is a desire to reinstate the principles of the Alma Ata Declaration of 1978, a milestone in public health that asserted that health was a fundamental right and called for a better allocation of the world's resources away from armaments and military conflicts towards peace.

    "Priorities set by the rich world damage the health of people thousands of miles away," said Marion Birch, director of UK-based charity Medact. "Funding for water and sanitation is falling while slum-dwellers in Lagos pay up to 40 times as much for water as residents in downtown New York. Oil extraction in the Niger Delta generates billions of dollars of revenue but local communities lack basic health care." 

    Global Health Watch 2 was launched on Thursday 16 October from 4.45-6.15pm, at the Wilkins Jeremy Bentham Meeting Room, Main Building UCL, Gower Street, London.

    Speakers included Dr David McCoy (Co-Managing Editor GHW2 and UCL Centre for International Health and Development), Professor Anthony Costello (UCL Institute for Global Health/Centre for International Health and Development) and Professor P Chandra (Institute of Social Paediatrics, Stanley Medical College, Chennai, India).

    Global Health Watch 2 is published by Zed Books.