How Capitalist Economies and neoliberal ideologies have affected the Spread and Management of infectious disease across the globe.
The Impact Capitalist Economies and Neoliberal Ideologies on the Spread and Management of Infectious Disease across the Globe.
The poor public health outcomes we see today, especially in developing and third-world countries are inarguably outcomes of the high levels of socio-economic inequality that are created and perpetuated by capitalism and neoliberal ideologies. As argued by Sell and Williams (2020), capitalism and neoliberalism, and the institutions they engender, are overarching global phenomena that interact with and shape public health at different levels and in a variety of ways. The fundamental structural effects of capitalism on global health outcomes manifest at multiple levels and scales, leading to the development of new health challenges in modern-day society. Notably, capitalism and neoliberal ideologies have significantly impacted the spread and management of infectious diseases across the world. Together with market fundamentalism, these political and economic systems tend to prioritize market efficiency and individualism as a way to support and promote globalized production and consumption. In turn, this leads to the development of policies and practices that emphasize profit maximization over public health and remain oblivious to the needs of under-resourced communities.
The resulting resource distribution disparity and skewed power thwart the efforts of health organizations and governments to effectively respond to and manage infectious disease pandemics, thereby worsening the impacts of illnesses on at-risk populations. These impacts are a direct function of capitalism, which is increasingly regarded as an ultimate source of health outcomes, and thus a strong predictor of the negative health outcomes the world experiences today. For instance, capitalism, neoliberalism, and globalization have converged to create conditions where many countries now rely on the global market for drugs and other medical supplies by pharmaceutical companies whose primary objective is to create shareholder value and maximize profits, rather than increasing people’s access to affordable healthcare. This pursuit of profit by global laboratories and pharmaceutical firms, such as Burroughs Wellcome, has engendered conditions where people in some countries and regions lack adequate access to treatments and vaccines, which perpetuates health disparities and hinders global efforts to manage and control the spread of infectious diseases. In this manner, the convergence of capitalist economies, globalization, and neoliberal ideologies play an immeasurable role in influencing and shaping the management of infectious diseases across the world, prompting the need for a disease management approach that is more equitable and public health-centered.
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