As a newcomer to the Socialist Register I found this a fascinating and illuminating book. The 19 authors come from nine different countries, from North America to China, Finland to Tanzania, and from diverse academic disciplines. The essays are well-referenced, making it a useful source for activists who are fighting the privatisation by stealth of our NHS.
Colin Leys starts off with a critique of the argument that the increasing life expectancy that began in the 19th century was a result of the growth of capitalism. He discusses the way new drugs and research changed health care in the 20th century, and ends with a look at how big business is currently infiltrating health care in England. He, like myself, dismisses the argument that the demand for health care is infinite.
Several chapters tackle inequalities in health, the commodification of health care, marketisation in Europe and the problems facing those in the US who want to see radical reform of their ailing, expensive and inequitable system.
Paula Tibendage and Maureen Mackintosh look at the appalling maternal mortality rate in Africa and the failure of attempts to lower it. They argue for a systemic way to tackle this longstanding problem, which requires a culture shift towards the value of women in society. Robert Albritton describes the way the food industry contributes to the epidemic of obesity while a quarter of the world's population has insufficient food - a hidden epidemic of starvation.
The sections on global health policy, public health, the WHO 'Health for All' initiative and contributions about China and Cuba are all informative and thought-provoking. Lesley Henderson's analysis of the role of TV medical dramas throws a new light on these popular series. And, lastly, Julian Tudor Hart considers 'Mental health in a sick society', an answer to Prozac Nation.
I thoroughly recommend this book for all those who care about health and our NHS. It is educational but also easy to read.
The day Greece’s TVs went dark Hilary Wainwright reports from Thessaloniki on what happened when the state ordered Greece’s state broadcaster to shut down, and the situation now
Winning at Walmart The OUR Walmart campaign has been shaking up labour organising in the US. As they prepared for their current strike, Alex Wood spent a month with the people behind a new kind of fightback
Toxic gas: why we need to stop fracking Tony Bosworth and Helen Rimmer report on plans to expand fracking across the UK and look at why we need to leave shale gas in the ground
Rio’s iron heel As host of the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, the Brazilian government is trying to ‘pacify’ the gangs in Rio’s favelas. But, Mike Davis reports, the needs of the favelados have taken a back seat
Canary Wharf: the dark tower This month the sterile steel of Canary Wharf will play host to anti-G8 protests. Daniel Turi of Occupy London gives us the lowdown on the speculators’ skyscrapers