In the book “Dying for Growth” by J.V. Millen, A. Irwin, and J.Y.Kim, the authors contemplate about the linkages between the neoliberal economic policies commonly associated with globalization and its effects on human health. They advocate deeming a political or strategy unsuccessful if it is detrimental to the health of the impoverished. For example, the practices of “globalized” institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank result in devastation, perhaps even contribute to suffering that could be viewed upon as “genocide”.
In my Global Studies course last year, one of the major themes discussed was that nothing in life is “free”; developed natures benefit from the devastation of less developed nations propelled by the forces of globalization. One could argue that globalization plays a major role in propagating human rights conflicts. Africa is a continent laden with economic resources and sadly, this fact probably also contributes to its impoverished status. During the days of colonialism, European governments with capitalistic mindsets made a “scramble for Africa” to divide up the country in order to hoard resources that will allow their own economies to flourish. While they experienced economic growth, the divisions created by globalization have devastated African countries.
Take, for instance, the current conflict in Sudan. Sudan is a country rich in oil and its oil revenues have given the poor government the ability to fund their military, bombers, and supplies enabling them to launch attacks on towns and villages. The conflict began in 2003 when the Sudan Liberation Army and JEM groups accused the Sudanese government of oppressing non-Arab Sudanese in favor of Sudanese Arabs.
While the goals outlined in “Dying for Growth” are commendable, I believe it will be very difficult to measure the extent to which some policies influence health because everything we do and all institutions (local, national, international) seem to influence the lives of others directly or indirectly in one way or another. While the less developed nations may never be able to catch up to more developed nations, with the current economic gap between the privileged and the destitute in mind, addressing global health issues is a good start for human rights.
Check out this globalization-related animation from National Geographic that addresses disparities in the world:
Also, read more about the conflict in Darfur here: http://ghsdawgs.com/causes/darfur/darfur.html
As the article, “What is Growing? Who is Dying,” states, though it’s been 50 years since the World Health Organization’s annual report, a lot has been done in the progress of health. Average expectancy increased from 48 years in 1955 to 99 years in 1998, and infant mortality has been significantly reduced (4). But even with such improvements in health there are great health disparities and the “health improvements made are unevenly distributed.” The second article we had to read quoted The Economist which stated that though globalization can be detrimental to a country, it is the cure to helping countries out of poverty. The problem with globalization and setting up in countries, where there are lenient human rights and environmental laws, is that corruption can easily breed and spread.
Such is the case in Mexico’s border towns where “areas with cheap labor and relaxed environmental, labor, and health standards attract MNCs.” In these maquiladora zones there is discrimination against women. They are underpaid and sexually harassed. Many of them have to undergo monthly pregnancy screenings, because the factories will not hire a pregnant woman, and if they become pregnant they will most likely lose their job.
In the city of Juarez, many women have been killed. It is known as the femicide of Juarez because there have been about 800 bodies that have been found and have estimated that 3,000 women that are still missing. Though “the state is responsible for safeguarding the lives of its weakest members” corporations should have a responsibility towards its workers. Instead of devaluing people by underpaying them and making them go through routine pregnancy screenings, they should create positive working environments rather than just add to the problem (160).
More information on Juarez and article on maquladoras:
My dad is always on me and my brother’s case when it comes to our health. He is always nagging us about eating healthier and working out and he’ll really go after my brother because he is overweight. After reading these and other articles I started to worry because my family isn’t so healthy. I know for a fact heart disease runs on my dad’s side of the family and my mother’s side there is diabetes and hypertension, and that there is a higher risk in being diagnosed with diabetes if you are Latino.
In the article, “Diabetes and its Awful Toll Quietly Emerge as a Crisis,” I was surprised at the statistics and numbers they had. Of the many patients the Montefiore Medical center sees, “nearly half the patients are there for some trouble precipitated by the disease (diabetes)” (1). As the article states, since it’s a “quiet” disease, it “provokes little of the fear or prevention as inspired by AIDS.” If the costs, either in medical bills or quality of life, were blasted everyday people might realize that by simply changing their eating habits or exercising 30 minutes a day, it would be a whole lot easier than having to deal with paying $30,400 for an amputation.
There are many factors that come into play when one is diagnosed with a disease such as diabetes. There are foods that one eats that might influence the way our body and genes react to it, such as “nutritional epigenetics,” and there are “genetic and socioeconomic forces” (5). But I feel there needs to more awareness in the matter of diabetes, because it is an epidemic, and an epidemic targeting Latinos, and poor communities. With “insurers [shunning] diabetics as too expensive” preventative measures need to be enacted because if help is being denied to those with the disease (a disease that correlates highly with poverty), the poor are more likely to suffer with hospitalizations and bills that they will have trouble paying. There is in a sense a “negligent destruction” taking place in these poor communities.
More information on Latinos and Diabetes:
In The New York Times, N.R. Kleinfield discusses the dangers of diabetes in the United States in the article, “Diabetes and Its Awful Toll Quiet Emerge as a Crisis”. Before I reading the article, I always felt that diabetes was such a paradox. While many are suffering from malnutrition in other countries, Americans must deal with diseases associated with overeating. However, the article brought to my attention that demographics play a role in the prevalence of diabetes; those in poorer neighborhoods have higher rates of diabetes and rates of diabetes are increasing all across the board. Priorities in terms of funding are given to illnesses that aren’t as deadly and youth in America have that mindset that they’re immune.
However, diabetes isn’t only a problem for developed countries. In 2006, Professor Paul Zimmet of the International Diabetes Institute at Monash University made the controversial claim that “ethnic populations… were facing ‘cultural genocide’ from diabetes.” 1/4 adults in the Pacific and North America are affected by diabetes. With high prevalence in indigenous Americans, Pacific Islanders, and migrant Asian Indians, awareness about diabetes and its consequences must be addressed worldwide.
Fortunately (or tragically), diabetes is a preventable epidemic.