Advancing the fight for free, comprehensive and progressive health care system while struggling for a socially just world free from imperialist domination
The workshop on Commission on Health had 33 participants representing 16 individuals and organizations from nine countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, India, Guatemala, Philippines, Hong Kong, El Salvador, USA.
Different faces of Imperialist Globalization in Health
Imperialism and its global offensive has resulted in wars of aggression, plunder and exploitation creating greater problems in the over-all socio-economic political conditions of people world wide. As nations go through the different phases and reinventions of neoliberalism, structural adjustment, financialization and austerity, the health crisis escalates and worsens. In summary:
1. Imperialist globalization has directly attacked and continues to attack our health care systems. It takes the forms of budget cuts/declining public expenditures in health care, dismantling of national systems thru devolution/decentralization, and privatization. All these are geared towards further commodification of health care, increased out of pocket expenses depriving many of needed health care.
2. Health care and personnel are “pawns’ in another round of economic interventions, allowing monopoly capitalist control of the lucrative “health market” thru Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement or TPPA, Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP. Imperialist countries and their corporations are fast-tracking the removal of barriers in health services (pharmaceuticals, hospitals, equipment, HMO’s) including “natural persons” resulting in: more expensive and unresponsive health care systems increased migration and its social and health costs commercialization of health education and medical care further exploitation of health workers.
3. The myth of “Universal health care” needs to be unmasked as a deceptive solution to the pressing health needs and as another prescription towards more private and corporate incursions into the health financing system.
4. Imperialism is war! Health sector is also under fire!
The wars of aggression in many countries by imperialist countries like the USA and its allies, have made health services for the people more difficult (Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria etc). The commission condemns the recent bombing of the MSF hospital of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Kunduz, killing MSF health personnel.
In the Philippines and Latin American countries, there are increasing incidents of harassments, threats, arrests and filing of trumped up charges against community health workers, and health professionals.
5. There is an increasing imperialist control of Inter-governmental health agencies promoting band-aid reforms and deceiving people. They use health services and aid to suppress people’s resistance.
6. The direct and indirect effects of war, fascism and development aggression on the people’s health affect communities (progressive people’s organizations) and special groups like women, children, indigenous peoples and migrants (at an increasing rate).
The fight for a just and equitable health system has to be part of the comprehensive people’s struggles against imperialism and the movement for nationalism and democracy, as in Cuba and China (during Mao’s regime).
Defeat Imperialism and Work for a Free, Comprehensive and Progressive Health Care
The right to health requires a socio-economic, political and cultural environment that promotes the well being of the people. Reforms are necessary but these should be in line with the overall people’s movement for societal change. People’s movements have a definite role in reclaiming public system and in transforming them as well.
A genuine people- oriented health care system can only be achieved by fundamental social change. Quality health and life can only be enjoyed in a society free from foreign and local monopoly control.
The oppressed peoples of the world should join hands to fight imperialism and other societal problems. They should work towards the development of a health care system that shall provide free, comprehensive health care services and use progressive and democratic approaches by developing health as a mass movement. This Health Care System shall be re-structured towards developing frontline community health workers (CHW) and paramedics with a referral system from primary to tertiary levels of care. The health educational system shall be redefined towards a nationalist, scientific and mass- oriented education. Proper training of health professionals oriented towards serving the people shall be implemented.
Health advocates and social activists need to join the struggling people in their fight against imperialism. There is no other course but to take the side of the masses.
1. Unite with the peoples of the world against imperialism.
Reject all forms of impositions under imperialist globalization.
Stand firmly and unite with the peoples of the world in intensifying the struggle for sovereignty and genuine development.
Uphold the fundamental rights of the people! Fight for social justice and against all forms of inequality, and work for genuine peace.
Resist imperialist plunder and war.
2. Uphold the right to health. Conduct unified actions against all imperialist impositions and deceptions on health care.
Stop privatization of health care. Struggle for adequate budgets for social services including health.
Reject the TPPA/TTIP/TiSA and other trade agreements that will further deny people’s right to health.
Fight for essential, affordable and accessible medicines.
Expose the use of Universal Health Care (UHC), Social Health insurance as profit oriented schemes by imperialist powers to conceal the global health crisis.
Expose the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as another deceptive mechanism to cover-up the inadequacies of the present economic system.
Expose and oppose the World Health Organization’s subservience to corporate sponsors
Oppose the commercialization of health and medical education.
Expose reformist and profit oriented health institutions.
Fight for gender-sensitive health care.
3. Fight for health workers’ and health professionals’ rights and welfare.
Fight for just wages, benefits and better working conditions of health workers and professionals.
Fight labor flexibility, Labor Export Policy (LEP) and protect the rights of migrant health workers. Expose and oppose the TiSA and ASEAN integration as additional instruments in institutionalizing “cheap labor export policy”.
Stop contractualization of labor. Defend job security.
Oppose unjust laws, policies, practices that affect migrant workers.
Fight against the harassment of health workers and violations of their right to organize.
4. Assert the right to serve.
Expose government non-adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Humanitarian Law, and hold these governments accountable for violating these rights.
Continue to oppose human rights violations against the people, including the health sector.
Assert the health and human rights of civilians in areas of armed conflict. Resist food, medical and economic blockades and sanctions.
Oppose destruction of infrastructures that are vital to public health.
Demand health workers’ safety, mobility and unhampered access in areas of armed conflict.
Resist the impositions of imperialist instruments (e.g. insurance companies) on health practices.
5. Build international solidarity against imperialism among health workers and professionals. Further develop people’s solidarity for people’s health.
6. PLAN OF ACTION: (based on current situation and previous plans)
Carry out mass education and information drives on current faces and effects of imperialist globalization at all levels. Maximize social media, blogs and on-line discussions.
Conduct international campaigns against imperialist globalization and its detrimental effects to people’s health. Launch campaigns on the following issues:
Against privatization: Reclaim People’s right to health! “People’s Health not Profit for Capitalists”.
Junk TPPA! People’s health not profit/corporate greed! Fight for affordable medicines!
Stop human rights violations committed against the people including health workers.
Campaign for the welfare and protection of health personnel including the migrant health workers against contractualization of health workers and abuses against migrant health workers. Accredit foreign-trained health professionals in receiving countries
Campaign for the increase of wages and benefits and provide better working conditions to all health workers.
Participate in the activities of international health formations that can serve as venues for developing solidarity relations.
Expand ILPS membership among health organizations and groups in different countries. Expand the Secretariat membership of the Commission on Health# 12.
Further develop and strengthen linkages and cooperation with health organizations and alliances locally and internationally. Expand in countries in Southeast Asia, Africa (Eritrea) and Latin America.