TOWARD A HEALTHIER
WORLD--METHODS AND ACTION FOR CHANGE:
Address by David Werner
for the People's Health Assembly
Savar, Bangladesh, December 4-8, 2000
To give some impetus to this last day of the
People's Health Assembly, the Planning Committee asked me
to give a so-called "inspirational address." I guess they
want me to say something hopeful, something optimistic, that
motivates all of us to keep slogging away in the up-hill struggle
for the healthier, more compassionate world we all dream of.
But the Planning Committee caught me at a bad
time or what looks like a bad time. Given the state of the
world today, with its spiraling social, economic, environmental
and moral crises, and with the trillion-armed, money-grubbing
Deity that breeds these crises, what can I truthfully say
that is optimistic? As we stand in the doorway of the new
millennium, are we moving forward or backward? Currently,
humanity's hard-won progress toward a collective commitment
to "well-being for all" has in many ways been reversed. Democratic
process has been eroded. Billions of people especially women
and children suffer deepening poverty, hunger, ill health,
and unfulfilled lives.
Meanwhile the global economy, governed by profit-hungry
corporations, grows at a cancerous rate, devouring nonrenewable
resources, concentrating wealth into fewer and fatter hands,
and unbalancing the planet's life-sustaining systems.
Currently the world's three biggest industries,
dollar for dollar, are: 1) weapons, 2) illicit drugs, and
3) oil, in that order. Think about the far-reaching harm that
these three huge industries cause to human and environmental
health. Yet, together they control a pivotal chunk of the
global economy and have a powerful political lobby. This makes
attempts to regulate or control such industries for the common
good extremely difficult.
Money not only talks, it buys votes. This helps
explain why the dominant model of "economic development" in
the world today is designed to further enriching the rich.
Today dozens of the world's biggest transnational corporations
have a wealth exceeding that of many nations. While their
chief executives earn millions of dollars a year, a forth
of humanity barely survives on less than a dollar a day. The
widening gap between rich and poor, both between countries
and within them, is jeopardizing the health and reducing the
quality of life of the growing millions of destitute people and
ultimately, of us all.
The knowledge and resources to remedy these
overarching problems exist. What is lacking is the political
will. The world's high-powered politicians, their palms greased
by giant corporations, put their hunger for profits before
human and environmental needs. The failure of national governments
and of the United Nations to regulate the increasingly unbridled
production of fossil fuels and toxic waste, endangers the
ecological balance of the planet and in the long run the survival
of all living things.
In sum, we human beings are riding a time-bomb
of our own making. And more frightening still, most of us
don't even know it, thanks to the institutionalized disinformation
of the mass media, As we bumble toward the brink of disaster,
its Business as Usual.
But good grief! I was supposed to say something
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