The Alternatives: Global Perspectives for Healthier lives

The scale of the global health challenges we face can make it easy to forget that alternatives are possible. But not only are they possible – they are being implemented right now!


Around the world, there are countries and approaches that are improving health by valuing what matters. These alternatives can provide inspiration for all of us as we work towards full and healthy lives.

  • Citizens of the Nordic countries are the healthiest and most ‘satisfied’ in the world thanks to comprehensive welfare states, high levels of public spending, strong labour unions and (in the case of Norway) a strong ownership role for the state in key companies.
  • Cuba’s state-owned, world-rated biotechnology sector produces over 70% of the medicines consumed by Cubans. Its openness to innovation, and focus on agro-ecology has increased food production and led to it being ranked the most sustainable country on the planet!
  • In just over half a century, South Korea has journeyed from chronic poverty to aid donor. Key reasons for its success include the gradual and carefully sequenced opening of markets; nurturing of domestic firms; and government ownership of banks.
  • Ecuador has made gains in welfare and reductions in poverty and inequality, and achieved the world’s most ‘inclusive’ growth. In 2008 the government enshrined the right to a Good Life in its Constitution. It also increased taxes on companies and invested in renewable energy, education and reducing poverty.

Find out more in our new report: The Alternatives: approaches towards a Life in Full

Cuba agroecology food stall option

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Join us at Labour Party Conference

RI logoReclaiming Internationalism: Moving UK Development Policy Beyond Empire 2.0
The current neoliberal approach to international development has failed to tackle the root causes of global poverty and inequality and left existing power relations intact. This event explores an alternative vision for global justice and how a Labour government can achieve this.

We will hear from speakers including Kate Osamor MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Asad Rehman (War on Want), Lidy Nacpil (Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development and Oxfam GB board member), Natalie Sharples (Health Poverty Action) and Aisha Dodwell (Global Justice Now). Ashish Ghadiali will chair the event.

The details of the event are as follows:

Date: Monday 25th September 2017
Time: 13:00 -14:30
Location: Hilton Brighton – Durham Hall – Wentwood

Please note –  you will need a Labour Party Conference pass to access the venue

There will be lunch and refreshments.

The event is being organised by Health Poverty Action, Global Justice Now, War on Want and Jubilee Debt Campaign on behalf of the Progressive Development Forum.

Contact n.sharples@healthpovertyaction.org for further information.

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Africa subsidises the rest of the world by over $40 billion in one year, according to new research

Much more wealth is leaving the world’s most impoverished continent than is entering it, according to new research into total financial flows into and out of Africa. The study finds that African countries receive $161.6 billion in resources such as loans, remittances and aid each year, but lose $203 billion through factors including tax avoidance, debt payments and resource extraction, creating an annual net financial deficit of over $40 billion.

inbox outbox honest accounts

The research shows that according to the most recent figures available in 2015:

  • African countries received around $19 billion in aid but over three times that much ($68 billion) was taken out in capital flight, mainly by multinational companies deliberately misreporting the value of their imports or exports to recuse tax.
  • African governments received $32.8 billion in loans but paid $18 billion in debt interest and principal payments, with the overall level of debt rising rapidly.
  • An estimated $29 billion a year was stolen from Africa in illegal logging, fishing and the trade in wildlife and plants.

Tim Jones, economist from the Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: “The African continent is rich, but the rest of the world profits from its wealth through unjust debt payments, multinational company profits and hiding proceeds from tax avoidance and corruption.”

Aisha Dodwell, a campaigner with Global Justice Now said: “There’s such a powerful narrative in Western societies that Africa is poor and that it needs our help. This research shows that what African countries really need is for the rest of the world to stop systematically looting them.  While the form of colonial plunder may have changed over time, its basic nature remains unchanged.”

Martin Drewry, director of Health Poverty Action said:  “To end poverty we need to focus our efforts on preventing the policies and practices that are causing it.  That means we need to stop our tax havens facilitating the theft of billions, clamp down on illegal activities and compensate African countries for the impact of climate change that they did not cause. “

Bernard Adaba, policy analyst with ISODEC in Ghana said: “’Development’ is a lost cause in Africa while we are haemorrhaging billions every year to extractive industries, western tax havens and illegal logging and fishing. Some serious structural changes need to be made to promote economic policies that enable African countries to best serve the needs of their people rather than simply being cash cows for Western corporations and governments. The bleeding of Africa must stop!”

The report Honest Accounts 2017: How the world profits from Africa’s wealth, published by a coalition of UK and African organisations, including Global Justice Now, Health Poverty Action and Jubilee Debt Campaign, makes a series of recommendations as to how the system extracting wealth from Africa could be dismantled. These recommendations include promoting economic policies that lead to equitable development, preventing companies with subsidiaries based in tax havens from operating in African countries, and transforming aid into a process that genuinely benefits Africa.

Notes

The research covers the 47 countries classified as ‘sub-Saharan Africa’ by the World Bank.

The research was published by Global Justice Now, Health Poverty Action, Jubilee Debt Campaign, Uganda Debt Network, Budget Advocacy Network, Afrika and Friends Networking Open Forum, Integrated Social Development Centre, Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development, Groundwork and People’s Health Movement.

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Power and privilege- taking a look at ourselves

Reposting today’s HPA blog from Martin about readdressing power balances internally, and in the wider development sector.

Two years ago we worked with others on a report that argued the development sector, through its focus on aid, was obscuring the facts about how poverty is created. It was also reinforcing dubious power imbalances between people and nations that ultimately undermine the ends we seek as a sector.

infographic

An infographic from the Honest Accounts report highlighting the uneven flow of funds in and out of Africa. This is just one manifestation of unequal power relations worldwide.

It’s no secret that these power imbalances are replicated across the Northern INGO sector itself. Sometimes this is reflected in our relationships with Southern partners, sometimes in lack of employee diversity, sometimes in appalling representations of the South in charity communications – and no doubt sometimes in others things too.

One of the key reasons I’m proud to work for Health Poverty Action is our awareness of power.  All our work is focussed on challenging the power imbalances that undermine health, whether that is working with communities who are denied their right to health due to ethnicity, or campaigning to address the global structural causes of poverty.

We see power as central to all our work. Yet, like most Northern INGOS, when it comes to addressing power and privilege in our own organisational structure, we have got serious work to do. Are we communicating accurately about the causes of poverty? Are we advocating effectively alongside others? And are we helping to dismantle some of the barriers to employment in the sector and encouraging diversity in our staff?

Quote-TejuCole2

It’s about time we found out. As Teju Cole says “If we are going to interfere in the lives of others, a little due diligence is a minimum requirement.”

So, we are embarking on some active self-reflection. This will cover the way we communicate, staff diversity and how we advocate alongside Southern partners.  First up – our communications. Are we effectively telling the story about people and how poverty is made, or are we inadvertently reinforcing some of the power imbalances we seek to destroy?

We’ve decided to blog about different aspects of this work as we go along, in the hope that this will expose ourselves to critical feedback, help us to get a range of external perspectives, and learn from others.

We’d really welcome your honest feedback and ideas for blogs, or areas of discussion. Just post them below, Tweet us @HealthPoverty or Facebook message us. Or you can send us an email to media@healthpovertyaction.org

Wish us luck.

Martin Drewry

Director

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How Western media would cover Baltimore if it happened elsewhere

Excellent piece from Karen Attiah in the Washington Post, for those who didn’t see it this week. Good in so many directions at once – for instance:

The United Kingdom expressed concern over the troubling turn of events in America in the last several months. The country’s foreign ministry released a statement: “We call on the American regime to rein in the state security agents who have been brutalizing members of America’s ethnic minority groups. The equal application of the rule of law, as well as the respect for human rights of all citizens, black or white, is essential for a healthy democracy.” Britain has always maintained a keen interest in America, a former colony.

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Frankie Boyle does development, colonialism, racism

Boyle commentsNothing left to say after such a brilliant piece, except read it in full on the Guardian website here. One highlight:

Even our charity is essentially patronising. Give a man a fish and he can eat for a day. Give him a fishing rod and he can feed himself. Alternatively, don’t poison the fishing waters, abduct his great-grandparents into slavery, then turn up 400 years later on your gap year talking a lot of shite about fish.

In a further nod to satire, Comic Relief this year focused on Malawi and Uganda. I didn’t see any acknowledgement that Britain had been the colonial power in those countries. “Thanks for the gold, lads, thanks for the diamonds. We had a whip-round and got you a fishing rod.”

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Drugs, Poverty and Development – Policy Solutions?

Panel Discussion
“Drugs, Poverty & Development – Policy Solutions?”
26 February 2015 | 17:30 to 18:30| IPU ROOM

The British Group Inter-Parliamentary Union (BGIPU) and Health Poverty Action (HPA) invite you to a discussion on drugs policy as a driver of poverty and its impact on human rights and international development. HPA will be launching a report that highlights these issues.
The discussion will be followed by a drinks reception.

Chair:Lord Rea, Former Deputy Opposition Spokesperson for Health and International Development

Speakers:
Baroness Meacher, Chair of the Drug Policy Reform All-Party Parliamentary Group
Catherine Martin, Policy Advisor, Health Poverty Action
Sir Keith Morris, Former Ambassador to Colombia
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Vice-Chair of the Human Rights All-Party Parliamentary Group
Dr Julia Buxton, School of Public Policy at Central European University in Budapest

RSVP: ostlers@parliament.uk or 02072193011

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