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“The proposal would raise health care costs in developing countries and lower quality in developed countries in Europe, North America, Australia and elsewhere,” explains Dr Odile Frank, who has analysed the document for Public Services International (PSI).
The proposal, reportedly tabled by the government of Turkey, was discussed by EU member states last September at the Geneva TISA negotiations. It suggests an annex on health care services in the TISA that would promote offshoring by facilitating patients’ travel abroad to access health services.
According to PSI, the TISA proposal assumes that health services are a commodity like any other that can be handled by the market. Establishing trade in health services ignores public health aspects and will exacerbate inequality.
“Health is a human right and is not for sale or for trade. The health system exists to keep our families safe and healthy, not to ensure the profits of large corporations,” says Rosa Pavanelli, PSI General Secretary.
While the solutions proposed would benefit wealthy consumers and private health firms, analysis from Professor Jane Kelsey, an expert on trade in services, suggests that money will be drawn out of the national health system “whose low level of investment is cited as one of the rationales for offshore treatment, and makes the problem self-perpetuating.”
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