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Health, equity, justice and globalisation: some lessons from the People's Health Assembly
  1. F Baum
  1. Department of Public Health, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide SA 5001 Australia
  1. Professor Baum (fran.baum{at}

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Can you imagine a world in which the spread of globalisation meant the world becoming a more just and equitable place? This seems like an impossible dream. All the indications are that the current forms of globalisation are making the world a safe place for unfettered market liberalism and the consequent growth of inequities. This economic globalisation is posing severe threats to both people's health and the health of the planet.

While the recent debate about globalisation is new its negative health impact is not. For instance on the Australian continent the indigenous peoples have suffered severe and ongoing health consequences of the European invasion of their lands 200 years ago. These have been so severe that they have come close to an actual and cultural genocide. At the start of the 21st century one of the major threats to global health comes from the transnational financial interests who speculate against the world currencies and multinational companies that are gaining more and more control over world production and trade.1 These interests have little stake in a healthier or more just world and their modus operandi must be recognised as one of the major threats to world health in this new century. This commentary will describe some of the deliberations of a recent gathering of public health activists, the People's Health Assembly, which examined the health impacts of globalisation, particularly the impact of global trade regimes and considered what can be done to change its character and impact.

The People's Health Assembly

The People's Health Assembly, held in Savar, Bangladesh from the 5–9 December 2000 was attended by 1500 from 93 countries. The People's Health Assembly was deliberately constituted to ensure fair representation of people from poor countries and people from NGOs and grass root perspectives. The People's Health Assembly potentially represents the beginning …

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