The persistence of global health inequalities challenges STS scholars to consider the multiple vectors that shape access to medicines and healthcare across the globe. These inequities encompass the relative lack of funding for health research aimed at treating the global burden of disease and the so called “neglected diseases” that often escape the research attention of the medical profession and pharmaceutical industry. For example, of the approximately $106bn spent on health research worldwide in 2003, only about 3 percent was allocated to the research and development of drugs to treat 90 percent of the global burden of disease. Meanwhile virtually no money went into the research of the so-called ‘most neglected diseases’, which continue to devastate the lives of millions living in poverty in developing countries.
This panel will add STS perspectives to ongoing debates in development and global health communities, examining things such as barriers towards increasing funding for neglected and orphan diseases; problems and paradoxes within current intellectual property regimes; the emergence and limits of "philanthrocapitalism” in addressing health inequities; and the (at times adverse) influence of new philanthropic players such as the Gates Foundation, Google.org, and the Clinton Initiative on global health funding. Cognizant of the view that often the problems of health lie outside the domain of health, we are particularly interested in papers which link health inequalities to larger patterns within the international political economy, examining the effects of privatization, trade liberalization, and structural adjustment policies on global health and development.
As the final session proposal is due March 1, we request that abstracts are submitted to us by Feb. 18. The 4S Annual Meeting will be held in Washington, DC, October 28-November 1 2009.
Saïd Business School
University of Oxford
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