Monday, November 21, 2005

Who wants to be rich and sick?

At a meeting on the future of WHO I met Philip Stevens that authored "The Real Determinants of Health". Philip think tanks at international policy network that is described at His booklet tells that economic growth is the main underlying determinant of health. I agree! But the cover photo, a Vietnamese woman on a bike, illustrates major side effects of growth that is not mentioned in the text. The photo shows:
1. She drives in flip-flop without helmet reflecting the extremely high rate of traffic accidents in Vietnam.
2. She transports live birds to market illustrating the challenge to prevent avian flue in a fast growing Asian poultry economy. Avian flue is mainly a threat to the economy in Asia.
3. The women look sad illustrating the female epidemic of depression and suicide in Vietnam and China in the midst of fast economic growth. Money does not buy gender equity.

The cover illustrate the side effects of economic growth that are not found in the text. Is it not in corporate interest with mutually reinforcing economic growth and improved health? Many government regulatrions that are needed both to attain optimal health and to secure continued growth are left out. The corporate view on health and growth is one sided, even if it argues well on some issues. One wonders if analysts in corprate tanks are ignorant or if they are forced to close an eye?


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