Economics and finance, Government and governance, Social policy, Health, Food & water | The World, Australia

14 April 2023

A third of global deaths are linked to a combination of climate change, the non-communicable disease epidemic, and four industry sectors: tobacco, ultra-processed food, fossil fuel, and alcohol.

Professor Sharon Friel joins Sharon Bessell and Arnagretta Hunter for a challenging conversation about the commercial determinants of health, and what can be done to save and improve lives.

You can listen here.

We discuss how there is no silver bullet fix, and it would take a multilevel and multi-pronged approach to commercial determinants of health and if it is done right, it could save a third of preventable global deaths. However, the implications are far more wide-reaching than that. If we take into consideration the indirect impact that industries have, from health and health inequities, income inequalities and changes to our lived environment, “well above half of the global burden of disease could be eliminated” Professor Friel states. The challenge is enforcing change across unregulated industries, and on transnational corporations.

“The most basic public health question is not whether the world has the resources or will to take such actions, but whether humanity can survive if society fails to make this effort.”

Sharon Friel is a Professor of Health Equity and an ARC Laureate Fellow in Planetary Health Equity at the ANU School of Regulation and Global Governance. Her research is focused on the intersection of social, commercial, political and environmental factors that contribute to health inequities and what changes policy and governance can make. Professor Friel and her colleagues have recently published a remarkable series of papers on The Commercial Determinants of Health in The Lancet.

Sharon Bessell is a Professor of Public Policy and Director of both the Children’s Policy Centre and the Poverty and Inequality Research Centre at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy.

Arnagretta Hunter is the Human Futures Fellow at ANU College of Health and Medicine, a cardiologist, physician, and a Senior Clinical Lecturer at ANU Medical School.

Show notes | The following were mentioned during this episode:

Commercial determinants of health published in The Lancet by Sharon Friel, et al. (2023)

21st-century capitalism: structural challenges for universal health care by Susan Sell (2019)

The collateralization of social policy by financial markets in the global south – A freely available chapter can be found in the Routledge international Handbook of Financialization. by Lena Lavinas (2020)

Taxing Extreme Wealth An annual tax on the world’s multi-millionaires and billionaires: What it would raise and what it could pay for  by Oxfam (2022)

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