The Health of Nations: Towards a New Political Economy (Paperback)
by Gavin Mooney
Review by Dr Alex Scott-Samuel
If you only read one more book about health in your lifetime, make it this one. It represents what the Commission on Social Determinants of Health should have written were they unencumbered by politics – in other words, the truth about the fundamental determinants of health and health inequality worldwide.
As Vicente Navarro says in his Preface, this book will become a classic. And as I wrote in a recent review, “Gavin Mooney is that rare breed, a health economist “as if people mattered”. Reading this book, it is abundantly clear how much he cares about suffering, poverty and inequality: most health economists analyse and pronounce on these issues, but leave the expression of values to other professions. Mooney is therefore ideally placed to understand and explain the political and economic causes of the obscene health inequalities in a world dominated by the notion of health as a business opportunity.
His global overview allows him to present fascinating examples of “the good, the bad and the ugly” in health policy and healthcare in a wide range of settings and continents. His critical, political economy perspective provides a rich and deep account of how and why the neoliberal creed that has infiltrated and manipulated so much of the world in the last 40 years exerts its malign influence over our health and our lives. Mooney’s clear and accessible documentation of the economics and power dynamics of social and environmental injustice in health is a must-read for anyone studying, searching or struggling for a healthier world.
I’ve just ordered my copy from my local book shop.