160161 Health and [corporate] rights: Paradox or paradigm?

Monday, November 5, 2007: 3:10 PM

Julie S. Solomon , School of Medicine & Department of Anthropology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Globalization in the era of neoliberalism has encouraged the privatization of healthcare in the developing world at the same time that it has created ‘corporate rights' under trade agreements, such as NAFTA and DR-CAFTA. At the confluence of these two phenomena, some transnational corporations are pursuing ‘health and development' projects, with the support of IFC/World Bank loans. Such loans must include poverty reduction strategies; they lend millions of dollars, prestige, and good public relations to companies which may have no prior experience in either primary healthcare delivery or development work. This paper examines the potential conflict of interest between corporate rights and human rights, profit motive and provision of healthcare, using the example of a US/Canadian mining company with loans to conduct gold mining and concurrent health/development work in rural Guatemala. A case study of this corporation, in three different contexts, attempts to illuminate parallels between inequity in access to health care and inequitable trade policies in both NAFTA and now DR-CAFTA. In addition, the individual health risks of heap leach gold mining are compared with the potential benefits of improved access to preventive medicine. Policy recommendations for enhanced models of ‘corporate social responsibility,' are suggested and include minimum criteria for community and local government involvement, sustainability, and external oversight and transparency. A method of implementation for these recommendations is described.

Learning Objectives:
1. Define the what is meant by "corporate rights" and the implication of this concept for human rights. 2. Evaluate the role of transnational corporations to provide health care for the communities in which they work. 3. Develop the plan for an independent oversight consortium which could monitor the health and development work of transnational corporations, share this information with the public, and create incentives for best practice.

Keywords: Human Rights, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.