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Global Debate On Affordable And Equitable Health

9 May 2002

New Zealand And Sweden Promote Global Debate On Affordable And Equitable Health Care

Health Minister Annette King and her Swedish counterpart Lars Engqvist today launched an initiative to encourage global debate on the importance of affordable and equitable access to health care.

The two ministers, meeting in Stockholm, said that the individual social policies of nations, including health policies, were strongly influenced by factors and forces operating in the international arena.

Ms King and Mr Engqvist, Swedish Health and Social Affairs Minister, said both their countries had experienced greater encroachment of market forces in health in recent years.

“Global market forces are operating increasingly in health services internationally. The ideal scenario they are putting forward is that everyone should be insured with different insurance companies that in turn compete to provide the best terms, purchase health and medical care effectively, force down costs and enhance quality,” the ministers said in a joint statement.

“We believe, however, that health systems based on affordable and equitable access for all are far more cost effective than systems ruled by market forces.

“The difficulty is, however, that market forces dominate the global debate, and the importance of common access to health care does not get the international attention it needs and deserves.

“That is why we have agreed today to set up an international forum to promote debate on affordable and equitable access to health care for everyone. The forum should contribute to putting the ideas of common access to health care on the global agenda, and be a meeting place for exchanges of knowledge, experience and ideas for public health and medical care provided on equal terms according to need.”

The two ministers said they wanted other like-thinking countries to join them in arranging international conferences and stimulating research. “Our countries are strongly convinced that market forces will never promote effective public welfare.”


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