By Iain Davis
In our continuing series exploring sustainable development and the associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we turn our attention to SDG 3 which promises to “ensure healthy lives.” Once again, when we scrutinise this promise it is empty. Through the 2030 Agenda for Universal Health Coverage (UHC2030) it seems that debt-based neocolonialism and oppressive global governance by a global public-private partnership are the real goals.
In the first part of this series, we looked at the United Nation’s (UN’s) Sustainable Development agenda. Contrary to most people’s perception of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this agenda has little to do with environmentalism or reducing CO2 emissions.
Instead, it is a mechanism for introducing global governance and particularly global financial governance into every aspect of our lives and every corner of our society and polity. It enables the continuation of “the same debt imperialism long used by the Anglo-American Empire to entrap nations in a new, equally predatory system of global financial governance.”
Agenda 2030 was first outlined with General Assembly Resolution 70/1 (A/Res/70/1). In October 2015, this Resolution committed the UN to Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In UN parlance, “sustainability” is misleadingly used as a synonym for transformation. Nothing about the SDGs is as it first appears. The devil is omnipresent in the detail and, as with all SDGs, we should approach SDG 3, which the UN claims will “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages,” with considerable caution.
The UHC2030 Public-Private Partnership
The Universal Health Coverage agenda for 2030 (UHC2030) is a United Nations (UN) global public health initiative designed to achieve UN Agenda 2030 SDG 3.
UHC2030 claims to provide a “global platform and space for multiple stakeholders to connect, work together and influence national and international commitments.” The stated objective of these stakeholders is to make “quality health services available for all.”
In order to supposedly achieve SDG 3, UHC2030 brings together partners, or “stakeholders,” from both the public and the private sector to collaborate on the transformation of global healthcare. UHC2030 is a global public-private partnership (G3P) attempting to centralise worldwide control of healthcare.
In Part 1 of this series, we considered the 2016 report from UN-DESA, which found that G3Ps were not fit for purpose. The UN’s own investigators stated that a number of measures were required to make UN-G3Ps viable. Yet, to date, none of those improvements have been implemented.
UN-DESA noted that the commitment to G3Ps was “ideological.” The evidence shows that the UHC2030 global public-private partnership (UHC-G3P) is unlikely to deliver the claimed benefits. That is, if the real objective is to deliver quality health services to all.
Controlling public health policy and healthcare regulations at the world, national, regional and eventually local level is what the “sustainable development” of healthcare is all about. It is the “transformation” of healthcare everywhere.
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So, who are the stakeholders and why do they want to “influence national and international commitments” to healthcare? Can they be trusted to deliver “quality health services” to everyone on Earth?
Or is there another agenda behind the stakeholders’ desire to transform our healthcare systems?
UHC2030 and Stakeholder Capitalism
G3Ps are formed of “stakeholders” based upon the idea, first promoted during the 1970s, of “stakeholder capitalism.” It proposes that the world will be a better place if multinational corporations act as “trustees of society.”
The legal definition of trustee: “the person appointed, or required by law, to execute a trust; one in whom an estate, interest, or power is vested, under an express or implied agreement to administer or exercise it for the benefit or to the use of another.”
Through the G3Ps that are set to provide “sustainable development” across the world, we are invited to accept that the Earth, all life and every aspect of our lives will be improved if global corporations are invested with the power to administer the entire global estate. The primary function of the governments we elect is to “enable” the transformation to take place.
The UHC-G3P consists of 83 national governments, including Iran, Lebanon, Somalia, Ghana, Uganda, Yemen, Myanmar, France, Germany, the UK, the US and Ukraine. Other nation-state partners contribute via multinational organisations.
For example, the Russian Federation is a UHC-G3P “partner” through the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Asia-Europe Foundation (AEF). Similarly, China partners with the UHC-G3P through the AEF and Israel via the IPU. Numerous UN agencies, including the UNDP and the WHO, and various philanthropic foundations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, are also UHC-G3P stakeholder partners.
The primary UHC2030 objective is to “influence national and international commitments.” It is a G3P engaged in policy development. The subsequent “enabling environments,” funded by taxpayers, are enthusiastically endorsed by the UHC-G3P, which states:
National governments should progressively increase their investment in health by either moving towards allocating at least 15% of their annual budget to health, or up to 5% of their annual GDP[.] [. . .] This increased budget for health should be raised through mandatory and fair pooling mechanisms (such as improving tax revenue collection, setting up social health insurance)[.]
For most developed countries this won’t require any additional spending on their own healthcare. The majority already spend more than 5% of GDP. In 2020, the US spent nearly 19%. Germany was the second highest spender, devoting nearly 13% of German GDP to health.
The same is not true for developing nations. Many spend considerably less on healthcare as a percentage of GDP. Djibouti and the Democratic Republic of Congo spend just 2%, Pakistan and India around 3%. Sri-Lanka, Yemen, Syria, Egypt and Iraq are among the many other nations that would all need to increase relative healthcare spending to meet UHC-G3P sustainability targets.
UHC-G3P Debt for Healthcare Destruction Swaps
Low- to middle-income countries (LMIC’s) will need to either re-prioritise spending or significantly increase GDP, to create potential surplus, in order to meet UHC2030 demands. This is going to be difficult because these nations saw debt/GDP ratios escalate wildly as a result of the global policy response to the pseudopandemic.
The association between falling GDP and increased child mortality is well known. Prior to the pseudopandemic, many LMICs were already struggling to maintain precarious public health systems. The additional economic shocks had a predictable detrimental impact upon health care provision, especially for the most vulnerable.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) were well aware of the risk. In July 2020, it estimated that an additional 6.7 million children under 5 would be pushed into malnutrition, suffering all the corresponding long-term health costs and higher associated mortality rates.
UNICEF noted that this disaster would be caused, not by COVID-19, but as a result of “the economic, food, and health systems disruptions.”
Yet UNICEF, a UHC-G3P stakeholder, inexplicably concluded:
The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to increase the risk of all forms of malnutrition. The wasting-focused estimates we present here are likely to be conservative. [. . .] The disruption of other health services during lockdowns will further compromise maternal and child health and mortality. [. . .] [T]he profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on early life nutrition could have intergenerational consequences for child growth and development and life-long impacts on education, chronic disease risks, and overall human capital formation[.]
There was no “profound impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.” None of the effects UNICEF described had anything to do with a respiratory disease. They were all the result of policy decisions taken in response to an alleged pandemic.
Knowing that the economic and health system disruption would kill vulnerable people, the UHC2030 multi-stakeholder partnership ploughed ahead with that disruption. They urged every government to invest more in COVID-19 response measures and treatments, as recommended by the WHO, a UHC-G3P stakeholder.
Bold emergency regulations and legislation were enforced. Inalienable rights were sacrificed and “collective responsibility” pursued. Patient safety—related to COVID-19—was prioritised by governments by providing financial support for “innovative solutions.”
The impact of this kind of “universal health coverage” on an LMICs, like Uganda, was devastating. With 74 alleged COVID-19 deaths per million of population (DPM), compared to a claimed 3,190 DPM in the US, Uganda didn’t have a pandemic.
Unfortunately, the shutdown of global supply chains and international markets by the developed nations, who claimed they did have a pandemic, hit Uganda’s economy hard. Ugandan export markets evaporated, businesses collapsed, unemployment soared as people were forced to migrate from urban areas to the countryside and return to subsistence farming.
As a lucky UHC2030 partner, the Ugandan government also had to borrow heavily to implement the supposedly necessary COVID-19 measures. It did so at the expense of preventative measures against other diseases like malaria, a disease that regularly leads to more than 260-280 DPM in Uganda.
Coerced into throwing everything at fighting a disease four times less dangerous than Malaria, Uganda also embraced additional public health risks. The Ugandan debt to GDP ratio in shot up from 22% to 41% in a single year and, by 2021, 9% of Ugandan revenue was spent on servicing its debts while GDP growth collapsed.
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