Warnings and lessons from abroad

As the international money markets respond with a universal thumbs down to the extreme dose of neoliberalism unveiled in the Truss government’s first “mini-budget”, with the pound plunging in value against all currencies from the Albanian lek to the Zambian kwacha, it seems a good time for The Lowdown to take stock of the wider international policy context.

Unhealthy inequalities

The new British government’s determination to discard even the pretence of “levelling up” and embrace a full-throttle widening of the chasm between rich (feted with tax cuts) and poor is certain to increase the tide of ill-health and increased demand for NHS acute and mental health services.

If anyone doubts this, they should look to the situation in the USA, where President Biden has arbitrarily declared the Covid pandemic over while hundreds are still dying with it each day. The US has experienced its biggest decline in life expectancy since the First World War – with the heaviest death toll predictably centred in the poorest states and the most deprived communities.

new report has shown that “states with the lowest life expectancy at birth were mostly Southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia) but also included D.C., Indiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, and Oklahoma.”

A recent article on the Salon website notes the for-profit healthcare system, “which limits both access to care as well as public health surveillance,” and the lack of universal health coverage have contributed to the death toll. The US has just 4.25 percent of the world’s population, but its million-plus  COVID deaths are more than 14 percent of the world’s total. 

Full story in The Lowdown, 27 September 2022