chapter  16
11 Pages

Improving Global Health: Counting Reasons Why

WithMichael J. Selgelid

This paper examines cumulative ethical and self-interested reasons why wealthy developed nations should be motivated to do more to improve health care in developing countries. Egalitarian and human rights reasons why wealthy nations should do more to improve global health are that doing so would (1) promote equality of opportunity (2) improve the situation of the worst-off, (3) promote respect of the human right to have one’s most basic needs met, and (4) reduce undeserved inequalities in well-being. Utilitarian reasons for improving global health are that this would (5) promote the greater good of humankind, and (6) achieve enormous benefits while requiring only small sacrifices. Libertarian reasons are that this would (7) amend historical injustices and (8) meet the obligation to amend injustices that developed world countries have contributed to. Self-interested reasons why wealthy nations should do more to improve global health are that doing so would (9) reduce the threat of infectious diseases to developed countries, (10) promote developed countries’ economic interests, and (11) promote global security. All of these reasons count, and together they add up to make an overwhelmingly powerful case for change. Those opposed to wealthy government funding of developing world health improvement would most likely appeal, implicitly or explicitly, to the idea that coercive taxation for redistributive purposes would violate the right of an individual to keep his hard-earned income. The idea that this reason not to improve global health should outweigh the combination of rights and values embodied in the eleven reasons enumerated above, however, is implausibly extreme, morally repugnant and perhaps imprudent.