Studies in National and International Development


National and International Development

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Globalization and Health Equity: Challenging Neoliberal Dominance

Ronald Labonte

Canada Research Chair in Globalization & Health Equity, Institute of Population Health, and Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, at the University of Ottawa

THURSDAY, JANUARY 29th, 2015th

Despite advances in global health, inequities within and between countries persist. What role has contemporary globalization played in promoting, or reducing, health equity? This presentation discusses different conceptions of globalization and identifies some of the major pathways by which economic globalization (sometimes referred to as neoliberal globalization, or market fundamentalism) affects health. The three principle characteristics of economic globalization are liberalized trade, liberalized and de-regulated investment (capital flows), and growth in the size and political power of transnational corporations. Major pathways by which these characteristics affect health include economic growth, poverty reduction, labour market flexibilization, food security, government policy space and capacity, and the spread of non-communicable diseases. The causes and consequences of the 2007/8 global financial crisis (and its subsequent employment and fiscal crises) will also be examined. What models of improved global governance for health can maximize globalization’s health benefits and minimize its health risks? How can the dominant imperative for economic growth be balanced against the necessity for environmental sustainability? These questions have become especially pertinent in light of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, the probable decline in global economic growth and the present trajectory of increasing wealth inequities

Ronald Labonte

About the Speaker: Dr. Labonté holds a Canada Research Chair in Globalization and Health Equity at the Institute of Population Health, and is a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine at the University of Ottawa; and in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Flinders University of South Australia. His current research interests include globalization as a “determinant of determinants” (he chaired the Globalization Knowledge Network for the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health), ethics, human rights and global health development, global migration of health workers, ‘medical’ tourism, revitalization of comprehensive primary health care, trade and health, and global health diplomacy. He has over 250 scientific publications and several hundred articles in popular media. Prior to his research on globalization and health, Dr. Labonté spent over twenty years working as a health promotion consultant, and wrote extensively on community development, empowerment, policy advocacy and other facets of community health.