This week, we observe World Health Day. It has been held on the same day since 1950 to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organisation and to draw attention to priorities in global health.
In that time, enormous advances have been made in medicine and treatments: smallpox, for example, has been wiped out.But huge differences in life expectancy as a result of illness still remain between countries.
Here in the UK, our NHS is the great success story that improved the lives and health of generations. It has pioneered many new treatments and exported those to the rest of the world.
One thing exported, however, that is bad news is the government’s obsession with privatisation of health services.
We know how much damage privatisation and PFI has caused to our health service. Other countries are now finding out how costly that experiment can be. In Lesotho, we hear, a new PFI hospital has used up half the country’s health budget at the expense of outlying and rural communities.
World Health Day gives us an opportunity to highlight the importance of health services and that they certainly shouldn’t be left to the mercy of the markets or for the big multinationals to make profit out of people’s pain.