Ethical and Economic Perspectives on Global Health Interventions
Sonia Bhalotra, University of
The Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) –
IZA Policy Paper No. 38 March 2012
Available online at: http://bit.ly/GKCZDR
“……Interventions that improve childhood health directly improve the quality of life and, in addition, have multiplier effects, producing sustained population and economic gains in poor countries. We suggest how contemporary global institutions shaping the development, pricing and distribution of vaccines and drugs may be modified to deliver large improvements in health.
“…..To support a justice argument for such modification, we show how the current global economic order may contribute to perpetuating poverty and poor health in less-developed countries…..”
“….Our approach is conditioned by three factors:
First, the global burden of disease is largely borne by poor countries.
Second, within poor countries, it is largely borne by children.
Third, poverty heightens the risk of contracting disease and childhood exposure to disease causes poverty in later life and, plausibly, into the next generation.
The first factor may suggest that improving global health is essentially the duty of poor-country governments, but we present ethical and economic arguments against this view.
The second and third factors suggest that health interventions may be self-financing and self-sustaining within the span of a generation and, overall, not only intrinsically desirable but also cost-effective. However, commitment problems arise in achieving international coordination of interventions and these are enhanced by the fact that some costs of inaction flow in an intergenerational frame (familiar from debates about climate change). This motivates consideration of global institutional reforms focused on alleviating disease burdens borne by children and especially by girls.
We suggest how contemporary global institutions shaping the development, pricing and distribution of vaccines and drugs may be modified to deliver large improvements in health. We show how interventions that improve childhood health directly improve the quality of life and, in addition, have multiplier effects, producing long-term population and economic gains in poor countries…..”
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