Section Editor: Rupa Chanda, ESCAP Subregional Office for South and South-West Asia, India
Deputy Section Editor: Ashley Schram, Australian National University, Australia
The increasingly interconnected and interdependent global economy and the dynamic nature of trade across borders have important implications for health everywhere. Economic policies for the past four decades have largely embodied neoliberal agendas that are subject to increasing empirical, ethical, and theoretical scrutiny, with widely accepted concerns over their impact on inequality, poverty, and environmental damage. Economic integration and trade and investment liberalization are defining features of contemporary globalization, first creating, and now revamping, global supply chains, creating both health opportunities and risks. How trade and investment treaties impact health outcomes within and between countries continues to be politically and empirically debated. A related outcome of global market integration is the increased size and power of transnational corporations, where a few often dominate in different economic sectors, from food and drinks products, to banking and finance, to extractive industries, to health technologies including pharmaceuticals. Of particular concern is the rise in noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), ‘vectors’ (social/societal determinants) for which include such globalization-related pathways as trade (and trade treaties), foreign investment (and investment treaties), and economic growth and urbanization associated with global economic integration. These ‘commercial (or corporate) determinants of health’ describe the policies and practices of private actors engaged in the production and marketing of unhealthy commodities (tobacco, alcohol, ultra-processed foods and beverages), or in extractive industries that create health damaging environmental impacts.
Papers submitted under this section will explore these economic and trade-related health topics, and provide research, commentary, and discussion needed to inform future health-equity-enhancing macroeconomic policies and trade and investment rules. The papers will also explore the related power and influence on health exerted by the policies and practices of multinational and transnational corporations.