The principles of social medicine and public health are paradigms used in Global Health to understand its social, economic, legal and political determinants and their complex interactions with, for instance, today's increasingly market-driven globalisation and its impact on health worldwide.
Within our evolving global system, escalating health care costs and apparent inefficiencies in public healthcare provision are increasingly being dealt withthrough investment from the corporate sector. Through the privatisation of health care and public health institutions efficiency is allegedly enhanced through competition. We observe a market-driven re-structuring of the health sector taking place across the globe that is leading to a “medicalisation” of life and “commercialisation” of health. A healthcare industry is becoming increasingly dominant, profiting from over-diagnosis, over-treatment and over-consumption while basic health needs are not met. Financial resources are being shifted within this evolving system to benefit shareholders, management and bureaucratic procedures, while the professionalism of health workers’, medical institutions and science are becoming ever more compromised by financial considerations. This raises the issue of professional ethics.
Essentially, health is being converted from a public good and basic human right to a corporatised market commodity. This change is accompanied by a reductionist technological and biological paradigm of medicine that ignores the social, psychological, economic and political determinants and their important impact on health.
The corporate capture of the health sector undermines public responsibility for individual health care and the public health sector. It threatens the independence of medical research and education and changes our very understanding of how society values health and the medical profession.
During our 2014 Global Health Summer School „From the power of the market to the health of the people“ we debated economic globalisation, explored the underlying causes of health sector transformation and the worldwide impact of corporate capture of health from the viewpoints of individuals and communities health, medical professionals, policy-makers and other stakeholders perspectives. Focussing on health as a public good, we contested power structures and confronted vested interests to understand what could be done about worldwide corporatisation of health and develop - jointly with academia and civil society organizations - multi-disciplinary solutions. Initial questions have been:
• Which are the drivers, dynamics and effects of economic globalisation?
• What are the causes, social and health effects of growing economic inequality and how they can be met?
• What are the impacts of austerity policies on health in the context of financial crisis and economic recession?
• How does increasingly market-driven health care effect health globally?
• How can medical peace work contribute in addressing the increase in ill-health worldwide?
• How do we need to frame global health to meet today‘s health challenges?
The Global Health Summer School ended with a one-day public conference on 20 September focusing on „Corporate Capture of Health – Threat to Science and Democracy“.