Baleares Declaration for the Defense of Health Care


THE BALEARES DECLARATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF HEALTH CARE

The participants of XIV Meeting on Health Care Delivery Systems held in Palma de Mallorca (Spain) from the 21 to 24 of May 2002 declare:


  1. Health is a fundamental human right.
  2. Health care is a right that must be established in the constitutions and laws of every country. Necessary preconditions for health are peace and health promoting socioeconomic and environmental conditions. Health care should be organized to guarantee democratic, universal access, quality, equity and efficiency.
  3. Health care systems around the world are threatened pro-market and pro-corporate policies that reduce public accountability and increase the private delivery of public services. The process of globalization spreads the view that health care is a commodity to be organized and controlled by market forces, a view encouraged at an international level by the World Trade Organization, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Their policy is to reduce or eliminate the role of government as a provider of basic health and social services. Their aim is to increase the profits of multinational corporations, such as insurance companies, HMOs, pharmaceutical firms, health care management businesses, and biotechnology corporations, at the expense of patient care. Commercialization of health care reduces equity and access to care, especially for the poor, the sick and the aged.
  4. The model of health care as a business paradoxically increases the costs of health care as money is shifted from the care of patients to the business of medicine, which requires increasing funds for administration, marketing, and profits.
  5. All countries must guarantee health care with sufficient public funding to provide care to all residents without discrimination by race, class, income, employment, gender, age, ethnicity, geography, disease, or costs of illness.
  6. Public health, disease prevention, medical treatment, rehabilitation and relief of suffering are essential health services, and must be distributed equitably in relation to the health and medical needs of the population. Public funding safeguards equitable distribution and enhances solidarity.
  7. Aging populations, work and traffic accidents, violence and wars, environmental pollution, poor nutritition, societally-induced ills, the deterioration of living conditions, infectious diseases, hunger, and poverty are producing increases in the numbers of patients with chronic illnesses and long term care needs. Equitable, compassionate and ethical health systems must include the care of vulnerable individuals, communities and populations.
  8. Globalization and corporatization punish developing countries through destruction of natural resources and exploitation of human labor. The levels of poverty and malnutrition, among the majority persons in the world, are unacceptable when there are enough resources to feed and care for the entire world. The weakest members of these global communities � women and children � are the most vulnerable targets of discrimination in market-based and male-dominated health systems. Vulnerable individuals suffer infectious diseases, chronic illnesses and other medical conditions that could be prevented by vaccination and by universal access to a free health care system. Instead of assisting women, children and other individuals with medical care, these countries face the paradox of losing any of their economic gains to support the rising costs of health care needs that are often induced by the very countries which should support them.
  9. The dismantling and privatization of national health systems is promoted through hidden and undemocratic strategies, such as �neutral� policies like separation of the financing and provision of health care. Such strategies transform health care into a private business, whose goal is to give private control over public needs. This strategy, promoted as a �public-private partnership,� results inherently in inequality in health care services. This is particularly evident in Latin America, where governments weakened by structural adjustment policies are unable to even minimally regulate the corporate involvement and control of health care.
  10. The strategy of the World Health Organization to achieve �health for all based on primary health care, health promotion and the participation of the population� is being obstructed by the interests of the health care-industrial complex, which includes the multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, large financial groups, banks and insurance companies. These groups promote treatment-centered systems, as opposed to preventive care, with intensive use of high technology, producing a situation in which, to the extent that health care is provided, individuals only receive care that is profitable to provide.
  11. The World Trade Organization, by enforcing patent policies designed to maximize the profits of the pharmaceutical industry, deprives millions of people of affordable drugs and the means to meet rising and unconscionable drug costs. Limits on the production of generics have been expanded at the expense of the health of largely abandoned patients, including patients in both poor and wealthy countries.



IN ORDER TO ADDRESS THE ABOVE SITUATIONS, WE PROPOSE:

1. The end to all war of all types, and the production and sale of weapons of destruction.
2. Ongoing research and policy development to:
a. Investigation, analysis and disclosure of practices and policies that undercut the achievement of the above principles.
b. Adoption of reforms in national health and social services that reaffirm the need for public accountability and public control of health and social services, such as health care, education, housing, food, jobs, etc
c. Organization and coordination of the struggle of unions and citizen groups against the privatization and destruction of national health systems.
d. Promotion, as proposed in Porto Alegre, of the development of a massive public-political campaign and outreach to grassroots organizations, NGOs, governments, and national and international organizations, such as the World Health Organization.
3. Creation of a Coordinating Committee for the Defense of National Health Care that is open to all grassroots and professional organizations, the goals of which are the development, coordination and support for an international movement against market-based health care.