Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Global health care system after coronavirus: Who has responsibility to protect

Popov, Vladimir (2020): Global health care system after coronavirus: Who has responsibility to protect.


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The debate between the US and China about the responsibility for the COVID-19 pandemic raises important questions about the obligations of national governments in the global health care domain. Whereas the US attempts to put the blame on China do not have any serious legal or moral justifications, there is certainly a rationale for the establishment of certain minimal standards in the provision of health care for particular countries. Externalities in the global health care protection are too obvious – costs of underinvestment into the national health care system are borne not only by the country in question, but by the whole world.

It is argued that countries should have certain obligations in providing health care services and protecting the population from diseases, especially infectious diseases, similar to the obligations in the framework of the responsibility to protect (R2P) concept that requires countries to protect their citizens from human rights violations. From the point of view of ensuring high life expectancy at a given level of per capita income and spending on health care, China is doing better than many other countries, including the United States that has high per capita income, spends 17% of GDP on health care, but does not provide universal access to health care and lags behind countries with a similar level of economic development in terms of life expectancy (79 years).

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