There exist many groups with well-intentioned wishes to provide assistance on a global basis to people they classify as ‘less fortunate’ or ‘undeveloped’. These groups actively lobby for certain global health policies which fit with their own, morally-defined and often colonialist world-view.. The list of these groups is endless (start with WHO, UNICEF, UN-Women, DFID, WHA, UNDP, World Bank…. and go from there).
These groups are lobbying, with much success, for policies such as the global fortification of flour and iodination of salt. They promote lifestyle interventions in developed and developing nations (often without any strategic input from representatives of these nations; hence the new colonialism), are demanding global regulation of the food industry (reducing salt, sugar, restricting advertising, banning trans fats and so on), banning alcohol adverts and demanding punitive taxes, and are pushing very hard to achieve a reduction to <5% of global population as smokers in the next 5-10 years through similarly aggressive measures against the tobacco industry.
These policies are listed here, albeit briefly, so that you may think of how one may go about trying to implement one of these policies globally. First the policy process is developed in various agencies (over several years minimum), lobbied for through more agencies, pushed at sub-UN (e.g. WHO, WHA) and then at UN level meetings and finally adopted as a global UN Treaty and implemented on the ground by those countries who choose to ratify the UN declaration. Implementation occurs even if this means changing local law, as has been done with tobacco use in public places (see the FCTC). This entire process costs unimaginable sums of money… and the point here is to remember from where exactly that money comes.
There is now an enormous political push for global public health governance (you can see here that this idea reached UN level many years ago, with sponsored publications from 2002. Nota bene the direct links with trade/economics). The prospect has spawned a whole research field, with institutes and conferences to boot!
This push will of course necessitate the setup of yet another organisation to coordinate research, implementation and monitoring of policy. However, these global bodies are always skint, and member nations are failing to keep up their UN subscriptions. But this little fact does not put off those interested (and self-interested) parties, oh no! And why not? Because they all know that there is a vast source of money out there which can be accessed if only they can persuade the other politicians (since at this level the interested parties are all represented by politicians, no matter their previous or current professional background) to squeeze it just a little harder. That source is the taxpayer. And in global policy, that means every taxpayer, everywhere.
It can be concluded, from directly witnessing these types of discussions, that the main reason why the implementation of global policy (and of global public healthcare policy in particular) is taken so incredibly seriously, is that the population is considered to exist for, and is amenable to, behavioural modification and exploitation as these global bodies see fit: ALWAYS in regard to ECONOMIC GROWTH. The only way a policy, medical or otherwise, will be approved at UN level is if it is sold to politicians as a driver of economic growth or in terms of improving human productivity and life-years at productive age.
The terms used at this level to describe ‘people’ are dehumanising, indicative of the single value of a plebian life only in terms of contribution to economic growth. Its contribution to the economy is far more important in driving policy than any consideration of humanitarian or ethical concerns. There are, of course, interest groups which deal in ethics, such as the Nuffield Council on BioEthics in the United Kingdom. They advise political groups and others, with the aim of acting as an ‘honest broker’ of information. As such they have, for example, developed a ‘ladder of intervention’. One may describe the ladder as running from Libertarian at the bottom to Dictatorial (or UN Treaty) at the top. These people, some of whom I know, deal in ethics, yet it is hard to be clear whether they act pragmatically rather than ethically, exhibiting an apparent requirement to demonstrate their own relevance to politics and policy-shaping.
Whatever, a mere digression. Returning to a coordinated global health policy, implemented from on high, the major problem is that these things cost money.
Most existing and future local (national) tax has been promised to The Bankers to compensate them for all the losses they incurred in their private businesses while exploiting the public purse. The children and grandchildren of two continents are already beholden to as-yet unborn Bankers, indentured slaves who will grow up knowing no other life, unless they find a red pill.
So the only way a new global public health policy will be implemented – and it will be implemented, and it will not be the only policy implemented in this way – is through new, global taxes. Global Government developing and implementing Global Policy funded by Global Taxes extorted by the same Global Government. Are you paying attention yet?
There will soon be a global ‘Tobin Tax’ on financial transactions, although this is likely to be inconsequential and serves as window-dressing to convince the workforce that The Rich Suffer Too.
Other revenue streams under serious consideration are a global tax on aeroplane tickets, and one on internet service providers (suggested by Sarkozy, who now also wants more internet regulation). Of couse, a new global body will be needed to manage and monitor these taxes… you can see where this leads. At least, you’d better see!
Finally, if we manage to hold down our rising bile, suspend our disbelief and assume that there is indeed a humanitarian drive behind many global policies, we may return briefly to Ethics and Morals. Is it ethical to extort money, however morally correct the purpose to which that money is put? Is it ethical to ‘eliminate choice’ or otherwise intervene and thereby punish by restricting the liberty of even one person in order to benefit your own moral judgement of what is good for the majority? Is it ethical to impose, by force, your own moral judgement on others? In the reality of global politics, the answer to all these questions is a resounding YES.
The reason is because these questions are all filtered through the screen of greed-based economics. Thus we see the question as “Is it ethical to impose, by force, your own moral judgements on others, if that judgement leads to economic growth (and, by default, increased upward flow of wealth)?” In the sausage factory there are no ethics, there are no morals, there is only money.