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Is trade liberalization of services the best strategy to achieve health-related Millennium Development Goals in Latin America? A call for caution.
Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública / Pan American Journal of Public Health. 2006 Nov; 20(5):341-346.In September 2000, at the United Nations (UN) Millennium Summit, 147 heads of state adopted the Millennium Declaration, with the aim of reflecting their commitment to global development and poverty alleviation. This commitment was summarized in 8 goals, 14 targets, and 48 measurable indicators, which together comprise the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to be attained by 2015. All of the MDGs contribute to public health, and three are directly health-related: MDGs 4 (reduce child mortality), 5 (improve maternal health), and 6 (combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases). Progress towards these goals has proved difficult. In an attempt to identify practical steps to achieve the MDGs, the UN Development Programme initiated the UN Millennium Project in 2002. This three-year "independent" advisory effort established 13 task forces to identify strategies and means of implementation to achieve each MDG target, and each task force produced a detailed report. A Task Force on Trade was created for MDG 8 to develop a global partnership for development. The mandate of the Task Force on Trade was to explore how the global trading system could be improved to support developing countries, with special attention to the needs of the poorest nations. (excerpt)
SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. 1992 Sep; 267(3):32, 36-8.Groups focused on women's rights, family planning and health, environmental protection, reduced consumption of natural resources, economic development and population control differ greatly in their views of population pressure's role in preventing sustainable development. Yet, it is these same groups that should be working together to achieve sustainable development. Some speakers at the 1991 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, encouraged world leaders to take immediate steps to deal with population growth and stated that poverty, environment, and population are intertwined. At the same time in the same city, panel participants at the Global Forum, attended by almost 2000 nongovernmental organizations, considered population control as a violation of women's rights, as a means to circumvent poverty eradication in developing countries, and as a means to suppress the poor in developing countries. These debates, whether population control or economic development is the best means to reduce population growth have been occurring since 1968. In the interim, the world population has increased form 3.5-5.5 billion. The population growth rate has fallen from 2-1.7%, however, but 97 million more people will appear on this earth each year during the 1990s. Because any discussion of contraceptives and family planning may be misinterpreted by members as abortion, many environmental groups do not address it. They also fear undertaking immigration issues, since past attempts were labelled as racist. Nevertheless, more and more organizations, e.g., the Natural Resources Defense Council, are beginning to address the need to focus on population growth to prevent environmental degradation. Further, some foundations, e.g., the Pew Charitable Trusts, are offering grants to environmental groups to begin population programs. All too often development plans neglect family health and do not consider the concerns of the target population.
Social Science and Medicine. 1985; 21(1):41-53.This paper explores the emergence of an international fad aiding and monitoring community participation efforts and projects its future outcome based on lessons from previous experiences in other than the health sector. The analysis suggests that the promotion of community participation was based in all cases on 2 false assumptions. 1) The value system of the peasantry and of the poor urban dwellers had been misunderstood by academicians and experts, particularly by US social scientists, who believed that the traditional values of the poor were the main obstacle for social development and for health improvement. However, the precolumbian forms of organization that traditional societies had been able to maintain throughout the centuries were not only compatible with development but had many of the characteristics of modernity: the tequio guelagetza minga and even the cargo system stress collective work, cooperation, communal land ownership and egalitarianism. 2) Another misjudgement was the claim that the peasantry was disorganized and incapable of effective collective action. In Latin America historical facts do not support this contention. A few examples from more recent history show the responsiveness and organizational capabilities of rural populations. The Peasant Leagues in Northeastern Brazil under the leadership of Juliao is perhaps 1 of the best known example. The question is thus raised as to why international and foreign assistance continues to pressure and finance programs for community organization and/or participation. It is suggested that the experience in Latin America (except perhaps Cuba and Nicaragua) indicates that community participation has produced additional exploitation of the poor by extracting free labor, that it has contributed to the cultural deprivation of the poor, and has contributed to political violence by the ousting and suppression of leaders and the destruction of grassroots organizations. Information presented on community participation in health programs in Latin America illustrates that they have followed closely the ideology and steps of community participation in other sectors. A country by country examination indicates that health participation programs in Latin America in spite of promotional efforts by international agencies, have not succeeded. The real international motivation for participation programs was the need to legitimeize political systems compatible with US political values. Through symbolic participation, international agencies had in mind the legitimation of low quality care for the poor, also known as primary health care and the generation of much needed support from the masses for the liberal democracies and authoritatrian regimes of the region. Primary health care delivery can be successful without community participation, in contradiction to what international agencies and governments maintain.
Alternative approaches to meeting basic health needs in developing countries: a joint UNICEF/WHO study.
Geneva, World Health Organization, 1975. 116 p.Based on the failure of conventional health services and approaches to make any appreciable impact on the health problems of developing populations, this study examined successful or promising systems of delivery of primary health care to identify the key factors in their success and the effect of some of these factors in the development of primary health care within various political, economic, and administrative frameworks. In the selection of new approaches for detailed study, emphasis was placed on actual programs that are potentially applicable in different sociopolitical settings and on programs explicitly recognizing the influence of other social and economic sectors such as agriculture and education on health. Information was gathered from a wide range of sources; including members, meeting reports, and publications of international organizations and agencies, gathered country representatives, and field staff. The 1st section, world poverty and health, focuses on the underprivileged, the glaring contrasts in health, and the obstacles to be overcome--problems of broad choices and approaches, resources, general structure of health services, and technical weasknesses. The main purpose of the case studies described in the 2nd part was to single out, describe, and discuss their most interesting characteristics. The cases comprised 2 major categories: programs adopted nationally in China, Cuba, Tanzania, and, to a certain extent, Venezuela, and schemes covering limited areas in Bangladesh, India, Niger, and Yugoslavia. Successful national programs are characterized by a strong political will that has transformed a practicable methodology into a national endeavor. In all countries where this has happened, health has been given a high priority in the government's general development program. Enterprise and leadership are also found in the 2nd group of more limited schemes. Valuable lessons, both technical and operational, can be derived from this type of effort. In all cases, the leading role of a dedicated individual can be clearly identified. There is also evidence that community leaders and organizations have given considerable support to these projects. External aid has played a part and apparently been well used. Every effort should be made to determine the driving forces behind promising progams and help harness them to national plans.