In 2000, world leaders committed to achieving these eight goals by 2015:
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Develop a global partnership for development.
While only five donor countries have reached the UN target for official aid, WHO statistics remind us that more than 1.8 million young people aged 15 to 24 die each year, mostly due to preventable causes.
Croakey hopes to bring you some posts from those attending the conference, so please stay tuned (in the meantime, the conference press releases are here, and you can also watch some of the sessions and media briefings here.
It did strike me as a case of interesting timing that this week also brings the launch of the latest investigation of the pharmaceutical industry and disease mongering – Sex, Lies and Pharmaceuticals, by Australian journalist Ray Moynihan, and co-written with Canadian academic Dr Barbara Mintzes.
So there we have it: on one hand, vast chunks of the world’s population unable to have even their basic health needs and rights met.
And on the other, a powerful industry that seeks to expand its markets and profits by extending definitions of illness (or as Moynihan and others have put it, by “selling sickness”) and creating lucrative new markets amongst the world’s wealthy.
In case you missed it, The Weekend Australian magazine covered Sex Lies and Pharmaceuticals and Moynihan has also written on “disease development” for ABC’s online site, The Drum.
Meanwhile, Moynihan has provided this short teaser for Croakey readers:
“Before we talk about the sex and the lies, let’s get one thing clear about the pharmaceuticals. As most Croakey readers already know well, drug companies produce many medicines that save lives and ameliorate suffering, and those medicines are commonly prescribed by hard-working and compassionate professionals primarily interested in improving the health of patients.
But similarly well understand is the fact that while the pills can sometimes be panaceas, their promotion is too often poisonous.
With global sales approaching a trillion dollars a year, it’s likely that drug companies are spending in excess of $100 billion annually marketing their products, on everything from free samples to friendly sales reps, from ‘educational’ dinners to web-based disease-awareness campaigns. But it’s become increasingly clear to anyone looking closely at the nature of that marketing, that its aim is no longer simply pushing pills. The goal, too often, is to expand the boundaries of treatable illness, and thus maximise the ‘unmet need’ for those pills.
Sex, Lies and Pharmaceuticals meticulously documents how drug companies are not only sponsoring the science of ‘female sexual dysfunction’ but in some cases actively helping to construct the basic scientific building blocks of this new condition – claimed, absurdly, to affect one-in-every two women. The ‘lies’ in the title refer to the marketing fictions like this one. And the ‘sex’…..well, as Simone de Beauvoir said long before the Viagra era, ‘in sexuality will always be materialised the tension, the anguish, the joy, the frustration and the triumph of existence.’”