Political roots of the struggle for health justice in Latin America

The Lancet, 385(9974), p1174–1175, 28 March 2015
Authors: Anne-Emanuelle Birn, Laura Nervi
“In 1952 Chile passed one of the world’s most comprehensive health-care laws, comparable in scope, unification, and name to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) launched 4 years earlier. Yet just 21 years later, this landmark achievement was brusquely upended. What explains this abrupt change? Health-care policy developments in Latin America—in their equitable and less equitable guises—are often portrayed as following a step-wise march towards universalism, echoing W W Rostow’s now maligned theory of the stages of economic development. But a contextualised reading of the vicissitudes of health justice struggles in a range of Latin American countries suggests a contrasting picture. Moments of gains, punctuated by periods of repression and stagnation, reveal a far more complex history of class struggle on the part of agrarian and industrial workers, indigenous peoples, women militants, and other social movements—allied with corresponding political parties—against powerful political and economic elites.”
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