The greatest challenges to health in the 21st century are global—they include the climate crisis and the spread of new diseases, war and militarisation, forced displacement and the dramatic increase in social inequality. The ways in which these challenges affect us, however, are unequally distributed along categories of place, gender, class, race, ability, and others. These threats are rooted in the profound injustices of our political and economic systems and institutions of (global) governance, resulting in huge democratic deficits in global health policy and beyond. Our era of neoliberal capitalism is thereby deeply associated with the continuities of colonialism, patriarchy, and exploitation of each other and of the environment.
These structures have been making us sick for a long time. Living and working conditions that cause disease in the Global South are often directly related to the profit of big corporations and the wealth of people in the Global North, such as in the case of the fossil fuel and mining industries. Warfare and the increased securing of borders lead to gross human rights violations, with the right to health on the line. All over the world, health care is becoming more and more commercialized. While pharmaceutical and other health care companies are allowed to make a profit with our health, people carry the costs of necessary care work, especially women and migrants. Moreover, health problems become indiviualized. Voices of marginalized groups who speak up to these injustices are often overheard and disregarded.
We can only overcome this circle of violence, exploitation, and poor health by creating the economic, political, social, and ecological conditions for a healthy life within our planetary boundaries and by ensuring the right to health for all people in the world.