Lancet/Oslo Commission: The Political Origins Of Health Inequity

Ole Petter Ottersen, et al. | Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) | February 11, 2014

Executive summary

Despite large gains in health over the past few decades, the distribution of health risks worldwide remains extremely and unacceptably uneven. Although the health sector has a crucial role in addressing health inequalities, its efforts often come into conflict with powerful global actors in pursuit of other interests such as protection of national security, safeguarding of sovereignty, or economic goals. This report examines power disparities and dynamics across a range of policy areas that affect health and that require improved global governance: economic crises and austerity measures, knowledge and intellectual property, foreign investment treaties, food security, transnational corporate activity, irregular migration, and violent conflict.

Global health inequities

* About 842 million people worldwide are chronically hungry, one in six children in developing countries is underweight, and more than a third of deaths among children younger than 5 years are attributable to malnutrition. Unequal access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food persists even though global food production is enough to cover 120% of global dietary needs.