Global Health Watch
In the present day globalized world, a pertinent question is, “Why diseases are killing the people or making the people invalid despite the biomedical remedies of these diseases are available in the world?”
There have been attempts to seek answers to this question and to articulate solutions with an alternate vision of health – a vision of equity, rights and empowerment. An important outcome of a collaborative exercise of Peoples Health Movement (PHM) with Global Equity Gauge Alliance (GEGA) and Medact in 2004 was the process is the periodic publication of a document termed the Global Health Watch – a document that is contributed to by researchers, academics and activists from across the globe.
The Global Health Watch is designed to question present policies in health and propose alternatives with the aims to:
• Promote human rights as the basis for health policy
• Counterbalance liberal and market-driven perspectives
• Shift the health policy agenda to recognize the political, social and economic barriers to better health
• Improve civil society’s capacity to hold national and international governments, global international financial institutions and corporations to account (including WHO and the World Bank)
• Strengthen the links between civil society organisations around the world
• Provide a forum for magnifying the voice of the poor and vulnerable
The document is divided into the following broad sections:
1. An analysis of the global political and economic architecture, within which are located the decisions and choices that impact on health.
2. A view of current issues and debates on health systems across the world, from which it is possible to draw appropriate lessons and propose concrete actions for promoting health.
3. Beyond Health Care – a discussion of different determinants of health
4. The Watching Section – dedicated to the scrutiny of global processes and institutions that are crucially important for health and health care in the globe.
5. A section proposing alternatives and highlighting stories of success and resistance that are exemplars of actual actions that have contributed to better health and health care.
Thus, unlike other reports on global health, the Global Health Watch also draws attention to the politics of global health and the policies and actions of key actors. The document is also a call to all health workers to broaden and strengthen the global community of health advocates who are taking action on global ill-health and inequalities, and their underlying political and economic determinants. Not only is it an educational resource for health professionals and activists, it makes clear the need for global health advocates to engage in lobbying many key actors to do better and to do more, whilst resisting those that do harm. It also seeks to act as a catalyst for the development and strengthening of existing campaigns around the world to improve health and equity. The document published as the Global Health Watch is, thus, a culmination of a global process. Typically, each Watch is contributed to directly by over 200 people from across the globe. While the published document is an important product, it is by no means the only outcome to be desired from the entire process. The process of producing the Watch involves the animation of a large number of different processes, in different regions and countries. The process promotes the scrutiny of national and regional policies related to health. It also promotes debate among health academics and activists on key issues that are critical for the promotion of global health.
The Watch itself has different uses and target audiences. It is a lobbying tool for health movements to work on policy makers in countries and global institutions. It is also a resource book for academics and health activists. It is a tool to mobilise civil society on issues of major concern. Thus the Global Health Watch goes much beyond the production of one document. Further, the launch of the GHW in different parts of the world is an opportunity to mobilise around issues that impact on access to health and health care.
While the PHM is responsible for the Secretariat of the Global Health Watch, its co-ordinating group also includes Medact (based in the UK), Health Action International, Medicos (Germany) and Third World Network.
Four volumes have already been published. The fifth volume of GHW is released, and has been launched in many countries. Nepal is in the process to officially launch the Global Health Watch 5.
Global Health Watch 1
Published in 2005
GHW 1 is divided into five thematic sections
Part A Health and Globalization (Health for All in borderless world)
Part B Health care services and systems
Part C Health of vulnerable groups (indigenous people and disable)
Part D The wider health context ( Climate change, food, water, education, war and conflict)
Part E Holding to account, making accountable (World Health Organization, UNICEF, World Bank, Business houses, Debt relief)
Global Health Watch 2
Published in 2008
Global Health Watch 2 points that unfair social and economic policies combined with bad politics are to blame for the poor state of the health of millions of people in the world. The report makes stinging criticisms of key global actors, including the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the Gates Foundation. The report calls on governments to stop the Bank from meddling in health politics.
Global Health Watch 2 provides examples of civil society mobilization across the world for more equitable health care and more health promotion, although more is needed to bring about significant improvements in health.
The report reveals widespread unease about the immense but unaccountable power and influence of the Gates Foundation. It says that although the Gates Foundation has injected vast sums of money into global health, it operates in an undemocratic way and reinforces a medical-technical approach.
Among other issues it highlights is 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.
Global Health Watch 3
Published in 2011
Volume 3 of Global Health Watch covers several issues linked with the economic globalization, trade and health of people. Among many issue raised in the volume, some of them are them more pertinent for us and relevant for further discussion.
Financing Health Systems
For poor, and often rural, household expenditure to access health services can be catastrophic. These families are pushed to poverty.
Need a coherent vision for health financing
Advocates for tax based health financing system to promote equity in health
Analyses why health systems fail to deliver
Analysis of three largest countries – US, China and India, reveals example of dysfunctional health care system owing to unsustainable health financing system
Building sustainable health systems
Experiences of some countries to build sustainable health system as swimming against the current
Global Health Watch 4
Published in 2014
Consists of 5 sections
Section A The global political and economic architecture.
Covers Health crisis of neoliberal globalization
Social struggle, progressive governments and health in Latin America
Fiscal policies in Europe; implications for health
Section B Health systems: current issues and debates
Covers The current discourse of Universal Health Coverage
National Health Service (NHS), UK: prey to neoliberal lust for market
The politics of medical devices in global market
Issues in Brazil, South Africa and other countries
Section C Beyond Health Care
Covers Social protection, reimagining development
Nutrition and food security
Section D Watching
Covers WHO reform: for what purpose?
Anew business model for NGO ?
Private sector influence on public health policy
The TRIPS agreement: two decades of failed promises
Section E Resistance, actions and change
Covers the experiences of campaigns in different countries.