Just Global Health?

Journal article

Reid-Henry, Simon (2016) Just Global Health?, Development and Change 47 (4): 712–733.

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Some 40 years ago, the public health philosopher Dan Beauchamp suggested that ‘public health should be a way of doing justice’. The argument put forward in this essay is that global health should be a way of doing global justice, by ameliorating the health inequalities that exclude many millions of people globally from enjoying a healthy life and from the benefits of a fuller inclusion in modern society. The essay develops this argument in three stages. First, it sets out some points of intersection between the politics of (global) health and competing ideas of justice. It offers a very basic typology of global health policy and practice that divides it into ‘market-justice’ and ‘social-justice’ models, and shows why it is the market-justice model that at present dominates. Second, the essay explores how mainstream ‘market-justice’ approaches to global health deal with the problem of health inequality rather weakly, and it is suggested that there are both historical and geographical reasons for this. Third, three ‘social-justice’ approaches to global health are explored that better take those historical and geographical conditions into account. In conclusion the essay offers some thoughts on the political uses of theories of justice.

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