Do economic development and growth more or less automatically bring with them better medical care to the population of a country? Well, it is generally presumed they do. This assumption is also a core part of a neoliberal globalism fairy tale. But the reality is far more complex. India, for example, has one of the most advanced pharmaceutical industries among developing countries. Yet the citizens of India has a very poor and limited access to essential medicines, which is actually among the worst in the world.
In a very interesting book Market Menagerie: Health and Development in Late Industrial States, Smita Srinivas (Columbia University) examines technological advance and market regulation in the health industries of nations such as India (mostly), Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, and Japan. Skilfully synthesizing three different perspectives in relation to developmental states: the provision of health services, the emergence of industrial economies and the role of the state, Srinivas analyzes why recent rapid economic growth in India has not led to broad improvements in health. The author situates her original examination in the tension between the human dimension of ‘national health reform’ and the challenges of ‘global governance’ for the multinational corporate pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector. For instance, an increasing export orientation of the Indian pharmaceutical companies has made access to medicines worse.
Market Menagerie is an important contribution to the understanding of the heterogeneity of states and markets, the heterogeneity that mediate the tension between industrialization and health access in developmental states. This book advocates to bring together three uncommonly paired themes: the growth of industrial capabilities, the politics of health access, and the geography of production and redistribution.
(Open access to the introduction of this recommended book)
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