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Is globalization really good for public health? General considerations and implications for the Arab world

Tausch, Arno (2015): Is globalization really good for public health? General considerations and implications for the Arab world.

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Abstract

Background: A positive assessment of the role of globalization as a driver of a good public health performance has been the result of major new studies in the field. But the present re-analysis shows that neo-liberal globalisation has resulted in increasing inequality, which in turn negatively affects global health performance. This conclusion is valid on a global level but it also holds for the majority of the Arab countries, which are currently undergoing very dramatic political and social transformations, which have fundamental repercussions for the Western world.

Methods: Standard IBM/SPSS OLS regressions and partial correlations with cross-national and time series aggregate, freely available data. The article also re-analysed the data, provided by Mukherjee N. and Krieckhaus J. Globalization and Human Well-Being. International Political Science Review, March 2012; vol. 33, 2: pp. 150-170.

Results: We can show that different types of globalization processes affect public health performance differently. The absence of restrictions (direct effects on the availability of pharmaceuticals) and the free flow of information (direct effects on the availability of scientific information in medicine and the free movement for members of the medical profession) have the biggest impact on infant mortality reduction, while actual foreign capital flows and personal contacts have less influence on reducing infant mortality rates. The “de-composition” of the available data suggests that for most of the time period of the last four decades, globalization inflows even implied an aggregate deterioration of public health, quite in line with recent prominent public health research studies by Cornia, de Vogli, and other studies, referred to in this article.

Conclusions: Globalization leads to increased inequality, and this, in turn, to a deteriorating public health performance. This is relevant for the health planners in the Middle Eastern region as well. The region witnessed a sharp increase in globalization in recent years. We show the validity of our conclusion also with an annual time series data analysis for 99 countries. In only 19 of 99 nations (i.e. 19.1%) globalization actually preceded an improvement in the public health performance. Far from falsifying the globalization critical research, our essay shows the basic weaknesses of the new “pro-globalization” literature in the public health profession.

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