Bad Medicine: The Prescription Drug Industry in the Third World

By Milton Silverman; Mia Lydecker et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
THE PATIENTS: HEALTH FOR ALL BY -- WHEN?

Halfdan Mahler served as director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) from 1972 to 1987. In 1978 a new concept appeared and quickly electrified that distinguished group: Health for all by the year 2000. This idea was formally endorsed by all 158 WHO member nations at the Alma-Ata conference on primary health in 1981. For the remainder of his term, Mahler enthusiastically supported it.1 Health for all by the year 2000 was no idle slogan, he declared. It apparently included not only medical care but also access to good food and clean water, and the overall social and economic development of the community. But its precise meaning was not clear. Mahler told the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations in 1982:

It does not mean that in the year 2000, doctors and nurses will provide medical care to everybody in the world for all their existing ailments, nor does it mean that in the year 2000, nobody will be sick or disabled. But it does mean that there will be an even distribution among the population of whatever health resources are available. And it does mean that people will use much better approaches than they do now for preventing disease and alleviating unavoidable illness and disability, and that there will be better ways of growing up, growing old, and dying gracefully. And it does mean that health begins at home and at the work place, because it is there, where people live and work, that health is made or broken. And it does mean that essential health care will be

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