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Globalization, Free Trade, and World Health: Set the People Free

Globalization, Free Trade, and World Health: Set the People Free

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Take a pen, and draw a circle anywhere on a globe of the Earth. Trace the borders of a nation, or include parts of nations, or islands. Ask yourself whether the people within the line can improve their medical care by imposing any barricades on the line. The answer, clearly, is that they cannot. No single reform would benefit international health more than simply ending trade barriers, slowly and responsibly, to avoid dislocations. Controversy over “globalization” has sparked street riots, tear gas, mass protest, and numerous books and articles discussing the pros and cons of global integration. This unique, hard-hitting and timely book, written by a doctor experienced in several countries, shows how almost none of the previous discussion has focused on the needs of international medical care. The book also explains that while almost none of the traditional arguments in favor of trade barriers are relevant today, controversy persists because of an obsolete framework for the discussion of globalization. For example, while “maquiladoras” and “free trade zones” are commonly thought to result from freer trade, they are in fact relics of the exploitation of working people by privileged governing classes. This book also explains how, if the states of the United States had been able to impose trade barriers among themselves, medical care in Louisiana and Mississippi might be no better than in parts of Central America today. Made more colorful with a few anecdotes drawn from personal medical experience, the book shows how once “globalization” is seen from the point of view of basic human services, such as medical care or education, the need for international freedom from trade barriers becomes obvious; particularly when distracting conflicts over “harmonization,” or standardization of laws, are clearly identified and excluded from the argument. This book will be of interest to anyone who understands the urgent need for progress and reform in international medical care, and who wishes to form an educated opinion about the globalization debate.