Globalisation and its Impact on Global Healthcare
Globalisation is a modern concept which has grown exponentially since the beginning of the Twenty-First Century and refers to the idea of the world becoming a smaller, more unified and accessible place for all. In terms of healthcare and indeed many other key social reforms, globalisation has meant an increased ability to cater for the medical needs of people globally – a higher level of support from western countries to combat the incessant AIDS problem in Africa, for example. Globalisation offers a succession of good and bad points which are routinely argued for and against by various governing bodies across the world. The central argument against globalisation is its general status – its lack of specificity when it comes to individual cultures and many feel that it reinforces the egos of superpowers such as the US who sweep in to ‘save the day’ when many proud cultures feel that they could do this themselves. However, in today’s world, there are significant problems which require a strong, united front to combat and healthcare is one such problem included in this: globalisation allows for the implementation of often desperately needed resources.
The overall argument for the globalisation of health care is that it would enable health care professionals to gain access to a wealth of resources such as knowledge, financial capital and social capital (Jenkins & Jones, 2006, p214). In short, this means that less wealthy nations would be able to gain access to these things and could fundamentally enhance the profile of health care in their country. As one expert points out: “An organisation that employs doctors in many geographical locations can exploit ICT to overcome the inertia of doctors to knowledge sharing or their to incapability to husband and harvest widely dispersed information” (Jenkins & Jones, 2006, p214). This implication of this is both good and bad as on the one hand, it would provide health care professionals with a wealth of new knowledge and resources that could ultimately save lives and make the work of doctors easier, in some ways. However, it could also mean that the old saying of ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ could be invoked and the worldwide health care organisation could find itself flooded with an influx of differing ideas and opinions which could weaken its global standing – making it appear uncertain and unreliable.
A further example of how the globalisation of health care is a double edged sword is the events which are currently happening in Brazil. The country sees a massive range in incomes throughout its people and therefore a massively differing availability of health care for individuals, and this can cause there to be “these effects [globalisation] can deepen the social disparity inside the country” (Kohlmorgen, 2003, p241). This means that the influx of greater resources to Brazil’s health care can only be available to the people who can afford to pay for it and so, for the large part, does not benefit the many. However, on the plus side, these resources are able to trickle through to Brazil’s health care meaning that whilst it may only be available to the wealthy now, the resources are still in place for when they can become more accessible to others too. Ultimately, the example of Brazil does fit in with the thesis here as the people of Brazil are still receiving a significant improvement in their health care system – the resources and knowledge are in place but it is not the duty of health care to stabilise a country’s wealth distribution and so it will only be truly effective as and when that problem is also solved.
In truth, my opinion is that globalisation on any platform is a good thing because it is unifying the world as opposed to us all living separately determined by colour, race, creed and nationality. The richer nations raise money every year through huge, nationally organised events for countries that are poorer and unable to function as successfully as their benefactors. However, why keep ploughing money into a solution when with globalisation, we’re all able to support one another in a more efficient way? Equally, I feel that in doing this, poorer nations would be able to regain their pride by returning the favour in whatever way they feel they can. However, it is clear also that globalisation of health care denotes significant problems for poorer nations as their skilled workers (doctors etc.) are choosing to work abroad in more developed countries rather than applying their skills to their home nation (Connell, 2010, p201). And so, a more immediate problem is whether or not globalisation can offer these workers good enough reasons to remain working in their own country which would, in the long run, help to bring global health care up to a common standard rather than its current state which is the strong supporting the weak. In short, globalisation is a step in the right direction but it will require a significant number of cures for other social ills before it is truly effective.
Connell, J. (2010). Migration and the globalisation of health care: the health worker exodus? Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.
Jenkins, F. & Jones, R. (2006). Managing and Leading in the Allied Health Professions. Oxon: Radcliffe Publishing Ltd.
Kohlmorgen, L. (2003). Globalisation, global health governance and national health politics in Developing Countries. Hamburg: Schriften des Deutschen übersee-instituts.