Markets don’t decide healthcare

Liberal economies have shifted responsibilities of the state to the market, exposing humans to the vagaries of market

By Author Samudrala VK   |   Published: 26th Jun 2020   12:05 am Updated: 25th Jun 2020   10:20 pm

It is true that politics is a central and ineludible feature of human life. Be it a family, classroom, workplace, society, national or international arena, politics is a ubiquitous activity. Rather than resorting to duress, it allows us to get things done appropriately and harmoniously, albeit slowly.

Although the nature and scope of politics have been jumboised, debate and consensus form its nuts and bolts. To some extent, coercion, admonishments and attacks are also viewed as political tools to persuade others to gain a relative advantage.

Cardinal Forces

Domestic politics within the state is characterised by the relations between the individual and the state, a powerful entity. By the same token, global politics is a political space outlined by complex and asymmetrical relationships between and amongst the member nations. Lacking apex political control, the global political space appears to be a state of nature.

The global leadership vacuity bolsters the powerful nations to decide rules that govern the international society and impose their diktats on poor and weak nations to keep them on the straight and narrow. Yes, they offer some sort of peace and security in the global political zone but it has become visible that at a time when the entire world is facing its worst human tragedy in the form of Covid-19, these cardinal forces have failed to get all hands on deck. In the wake of Covid-19, the Western powers have dragged their feet to play a decisive role.

Eulogised as a big brother, the US has been struggling to save its own skin in the wake of this pandemic. The halcyon days of the US supreme dominance over the international political sphere had come to an end on account of the rise of intermediate powers across the world. Third world nations are sick and tired of the western-led global order due to its insensitivity and undemocratic design, which serves the interests of the so-called “wealthy nations”.

Markets

 

Drifting Attention

US President Donald Trump has been trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes at a time when the entire humanity is facing a public health emergency by spreading barefaced lies and by building cockamamie narratives. All in all, Trump’s policy of making a mountain out of a molehill had drifted the attention of the US citizens away from the issues, which are triggering the unrest and inequality at large.

Countries which are built on socialist fundamentals will have a natural propensity to develop and maintain robust health and education systems that are instrumental for individual, and by and large, the well being of the community. Welfare, what forms the bedrock of socialism, can serve as an essential tool to ensure that every individual, irrespective of class, gender, colour, creed, race and nation, shall be treated in an equal and fair manner in letter and spirit, which in turn guarantees his/her right to life.
The liberal economies have shifted the fundamental responsibilities of the state, including education and health, to the market and fostered the belief that the market is a sheer guarantor of a blissful human life. This tendency has exposed human beings to the vagaries of the market.

Small’s Might

Interestingly, in the wake of Covid-19, countries with minimal presence in global affairs and whose efforts to global peace are often misprized and rarely acknowledged have given a leg up to the nations with sophisticated and efficient health systems. Their goodwill during this troubling times, with their paltry means and resources, has been forcing many observers to shed the outdated theories to assess international relations and to start off blue-sky thinking to reassess current dynamics in the international political space.

For instance, Cuba, which has been reeling under the sadistic and inhuman sanctions of the US for more than 60 years, has set an example of humanitarianism during the Covid-19 times by sending its medical health professionals to vulnerable countries in Asia and African continents. Although considered as an exiguous and uninfluential player in international politics, Cuba has been exercising its medical diplomacy at a time when the hypengyophobia major powers are ebbing from the driving position.

Guaranteed Healthcare

As humanity lives to tell the tale of wreckage that has been caused by the pandemic, it is important to cast light on health networks in market economies. The state (political authority) has to be as stubborn as a mule to guarantee its citizens affordable and accessible healthcare systems.

Compared to liberal economies, countries which have adopted a social-democratic agenda, like the Nordic nations, bulwark its citizens by providing sufficient healthcare facilities at primary and intermediate levels. The squeaky clean image and the top-notch performance of these northern countries in several indices prove that it is in the best interest of society to entrust the state to provide a set of essentials rather than have blind faith in the market.

Once hailed as a champion of human rights, the US had itself turned a blind eye on the rights of its citizens. Under the banner of humanitarian intervention, the US has a long history of meddling in internal affairs of other nations without any sort of legitimacy. Ironically, the US would move the goalposts when things are acting against itself.

Being an architect and the central player in creating the UN system, the US is yet to ratify the “International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”. It is high time to set right the internal shortcomings on the part of the US policymakers and ensure that no citizen is denied health services based on her/his financial status.

(The author is Director of Samudrala VK IAS academy)


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