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Back | Programme Area: Markets, Business and Regulation (2000 - 2009), Social Policy and Development (2000 - 2009)

Commercialization and Globalization of Health Care: Lessons from UNRISD Research (Research and Policy Brief)



Using market mechanisms in the provision of health services and seeing health care as a private good are approaches that have featured prominently in health sector reforms across the world. The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) research on global and local experiences of health care commercialization challenges this framework. It calls for reclaiming public policies that promote the purposes that health systems are set up to serve: population health and the provision of care for all according to need.

UNRISD research on health care commercialization began from an understanding of health policy as part of broader social and public policies. Health systems are the institutional expression of these policies, rooted in legal rights, values and political commitments. Health care forms part of wider health systems, which also encompass public health, health promotion and assessment of health implications of other policies. Health services must aim for universal access to care according to need, and solidarity in provision and financing—and have to be judged against these aims. In this framework, commercialization should be evaluated as a means to these ends.


UNRISD Research and Policy Briefs aim to improve the quality of development dialogue. They situate the Institute’s research within wider social development debates, synthesize its findings and draw out issues for consideration in decision-making processes. They provide this information in a concise format that should be of use to policy makers, scholars, activists, journalists and others.

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  • Publication and ordering details
  • Pub. Date: 20 Dec 2007
    Pub. Place: Geneva
    ISSN: 1811-0142
    From: UNRISD