Interrogating scarcity: how to think about ‘resource-scarce settings’

Title: Interrogating scarcity: how to think about ‘resource-scarce settings’
Authors: Schrecker, Ted
Date: 2012
Abstract: The idea of resource scarcity permeates health ethics and health policy analysis in various contexts. However, health ethics inquiry seldom asks—as it should—why some settings are ‘resource-scarce’ and others not. In this article I describe interrogating scarcity as a strategy for inquiry into questions of resource allocation within a single political jurisdiction and, in particular, as an approach to the issue of global health justice in an interconnected world. I demonstrate its relevance to the situation of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) with brief descriptions of four elements of contemporary globalization: trade agreements; the worldwide financial marketplace and capital flight; structural adjustment; imperial geopolitics and foreign policy. This demonstration involves not only health care, but also social determinants of health. Finally, I argue that interrogating scarcity provides the basis for a new, critical approach to health policy at the interface of ethics and the social sciences, with specific reference to market fundamentalism as the value system underlying contemporary globalization.
DOI: 10.1093/heapol/czs071
CollectionEpidemiology and Community Medicine
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