The reduction of health inequities is an ethical imperative, according to the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health (CSDH). Drawing on detailed multidisciplinary evidence assembled by the Globalization Knowledge Network that supported the CSDH, we define globalisation in mainly economic terms. We consider and reject the presumption that globalisation will yield health benefits as a result of its contribution to rapid economic growth and associated reductions in poverty. Expanding on this point, we describe four disequalising dynamics by which contemporary globalisation causes divergence: the global reorganisation of production and emergence of a global labour-market; the increasing importance of binding trade agreements and processes to resolve disputes; the rapidly increasing mobility of financial capital; and the persistence of debt crises in developing countries. Generic policies designed to reduce health inequities are described with reference to the three Rs of redistribution, regulation, and rights. We conclude with an examination of the interconnected intellectual and institutional challenges to reduction of health inequities that are created by contemporary globalisation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas