Fighting for free, comprehensive and progressive health care system

Resolutions on Commission 12: The right of the people to health & the rights of health workers

The worsening world health situation is a result of Imperialist Globalization

The world is in crisis –economic, political and social. This is characterized by extreme poverty and exploitation for the vast majority of nations and peoples, economic stagnation even in advanced capitalist countries, wars of aggression, imperialist instigated local wars and so on. Imperialist globalization is being pushed and touted as the solution to the economic crisis but it only worsens the crisis. The WTO, GATT, and TRIPS, regional blocs like APEC are instruments for such imperialist globalization

The health crisis is bound to worsen as the world crisis escalates.

The health situation worldwide has deteriorated as a result of imperialist globalization. Governments have reneged on their State responsibility to provide social services, including health, to the majority of the citizenry.   As a result, the majority poor and exploited have lost access to health care services.   Government health expenditure in many countries have fallen drastically in Pakistan, Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia and Myanmar. As a result, health spending has increasingly been coming from private sources particularly from out-of-pocket payments.

“In Latin America, almost all countries underwent decentralization of their public health sector upon pressures from IMF and WB to free up national funds for debt service.  Public hospitals in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay were corporatized as a way to cut government spending on health. In Africa, economic restructuring consistently involves cutbacks in health budgets to free up money for debt payments to foreign creditors” (1).  Similarly, in the USA (and Canada), budgets for health have been allocated towards high-priced care to serve the needs of the wealthy. On the other hand, rising unemployment and out of control insurance premiums have intersected to cause almost 5 million people to lose their health coverage since the beginning of 2008, according to Families USA. This has exacerbated an already dire health care crisis that has left more than 50 million people uninsured and another 25 million underinsured.

The privatization of the health sector has resulted in breakdown of health care delivery systems. Privatized health systems are associated with higher fees because private providers tend to choose profitable treatments over medical need. With globalization, “health has increasingly become a commodity: sold by capitalists for superprofit, produced with as cheap labor as possible (i.e., underpaid/overworked health workers), and bought only by those who can afford it” (2).

At the same time, wars of aggression being launched in many countries have made health services for the people more difficult, where health workers and professionals continue to work under threat and in dangerous situations. Just recently, nurses and other health professionals in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) experienced such predicaments.

Health workers and professionals from poor countries like the Philippines, India, Indonesia are forced to migrate to developed countries for better paying jobs, but not necessarily better working conditions. Doctors, nurses and other health workers are victims in their own countries, where they are overworked and underpaid public servants.   Although they receive better pay in countries like USA, Canada, UK, Middle East, they continue to be oppressed, exploited and treated as second class citizens. Many countries, both sending and receiving, resort to labor contracting of health workers and professionals and subject their services to market forces, instead of creating regular items based on the health needs of their people. This has resulted to further exploitation. In the Philippines, the community health workers in organized communities are targetted for military harrassment and intimidation; they are threatened and jailed on trumped-up charges.

Medicines continue to be very expensive and inaccessible. The unabated increase in prices of medicines continue to be a problem for the people. Prices have been left to unregulated free-market forces. Drug monopolies continue to rake in superprofits.

States project themselves as protecting health as a right through international declarations, domestic legislation and policies, but these have resulted to measly reforms which are very illusory and deceptive. WHO’s call on Primary Health Care Now More Than Ever which continues to focus on selective primary health care, the UN’s Millenium Development Goals with emphasis only on health outcomes, and the call for Universal Health Care which is actually privatization in disguise, have all resulted in efforts that fall short of truly addressing the roots of our health problems.   Public private partnerships being promoted globally by the World Bank have actually cemented the privatization thrusts in health.

The fulfillment of the right to health is not only through the provision of health care services but also requires a socioeconomic political & cultural environment promoting the well being of the people. Quality health and life can be upheld only in a society free from foreign and local monopoly control…where health care is nationalist, scientific and mass-based.   A genuine people-oriented health care system can only be achieved by fundamental social change.

People must unite to end imperialist globalization and domination

The oppressed peoples of the world should join hands to develop a health care system that is responsive to the needs of the people, ie, a health care system that shall provide free, comprehensive health care services and shall 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 education system shall be re-oriented and proper training of health professionals shall be implemented and regulated.

Health activists have a big role to play in asserting for these rights, in arousing, mobilizing, and organizing the people. Together with the people, we, health advocates and social activists need to join in the struggle against imperialism. There is no other direction but to take sides with the masses.

The study commission on health proposes the following resolutions:

Unite with the peoples of the world against imperialism. Arouse, organize and mobilize the health sector to work for social change, closely link their interests to the welfare of the oppressed classes and sectors in our society. Mobilize the members of the health sector to help lay down the foundation of an alternative health care system that is free, comprehensive, progressive and responsive to the needs of the people. 

  1. Launch unified actions against imperialist impositions and deceptions on health care.

    1. Stop privatization of health care.

    2. Push for adequate budget for social services including health

    3. Expose and oppose drug monopolies. Fight for free, appropriate and accessible medicines.

    4. Expose the use of Universal Health Care (UHC) as a profit oriented scheme popularized by imperialist powers to answer the global health crisis

    5. Expose the Milleneum Development Goals (MDGs) as a deceptive mechanism to cover-up the inadequacies of the present economic system

    6. Fight Labor Export Policy (LEP) and protect the rights of migrant health workers

    7. Expose and oppose corporate control of health science institutions

  2. Fight for labor rights of all health workers

    1. Fight for just wages, benefits and working conditions of health workers and professionals

    2. Fight for humane working conditions to ensure safe patient care.

    3. Stop contractualization of labor. Defend job security

    4. Include human rights in the training curriculum of health workers

    5. Oppose unjust laws, policies, practices that affect migrant workers

  3. Resist imperialist wars of aggression.

    1. Assert the health and human rights of civilians in areas of armed conflict

    2. Resist food, medical and economic blockades and sanctions

    3. Oppose destruction of infrastructures that are vital to public health

    4. Condemn the harassment of health workers and demand their safety, mobility and unhampered access in areas where they serve

    5. Expose and resist the abuse of health and relief work as instruments of imperialist plunder and wars of aggression

  4. Build global solidarity against imperialism among health workers, professionals and peoples of the world for people’s health

Plan of Action:

  1. Conduct massive education and information drives on current health issues at the national, regional and international levels. (create an e-group for the commission participants)

  2. Launch and coordinate local, sectoral and international campaigns to expose and oppose policies that are detrimental to people’s health:

    • Campaign against Privatization: “Health is not for sale!”, “WTO Out of Health!”

    • Campaign for Cheaper Medicines – to expose and oppose drug monopoly in the multinational drug company (MNC) dominated drug industry

    • Campaign against wars of aggression and pursue the campaign to respect and uphold Protocol 2 of the Geneva Convention in areas of armed conflict

  3. Launch campaign for the welfare and protection of health personnel including migrant health workers both in sending and receiving countries

    • Campaign against abuses to migrant health workers

    • Campaign against human rights violations among health personnel

    • Prepare for the International assembly of Health Workers

    • Campaign for the accreditation of foreign trained health professionals in Canada

  4. Actively participate in the activities of existing international and regional formations that can serve as venues to expose the role of monopoly capitalism’s impact on people’s health and the plight of health workers.

    • People’s Health Assembly in 2012,

    • People’s Health Movement (PHM) – International People’s Health University (IPHU)

    • Global Health Workforce Alliance

    • Dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on Health

  5. Expand ILPS membership among health organizations and groups in different countries. Expand the Secretariat membership of the Study Commission No. 12

  6. Further develop and strengthen linkages and cooperation with health professionals, groups, organizations and alliances, locally and internationally.

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