Globalisation, trade and health (2016)

Health and health care matter. They matters to individuals and families for reasons which are at the core of our humanity. They matter to policy makers for reasons of solidarity, security and stability.

Globalization affects health. It affects innovation and the pricing and availability of innovative technologies, including medical technologies. It affects the social environment in which health is shaped, food, transport, jobs, etc. Globalization affects the distribution of social goods: access to health care, living conditions conducive to better health. The ways in which globalization develops are shaped by a myriad of decisions: technical, institutional, economic and cultural; decisions which are made by governments, corporations, unions and households. These decisions are not focused on globalization per se but they could be influenced through an understanding of their wider implications.

One set of decisions which strongly affects the processes of globalization are those involving trade. These include decisions of corporations regarding corporate strategy and the structure of their value chains. They also include the decisions of governments regarding trade policy, including trade negotiations and the decisions of various stakeholders seeking to ensure favourable outcomes from such negotiations. Public health and trade have been linked since the earliest merchants and kings sought to gain trading advantage from disease outbreaks through quarantine and import restrictions (or were accused of doing so by competitors).

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