Debt and health
Developing country governments will struggle to invest in decent public health facilities when valuable resources are needed to service debt. However, the evidence is that debt relief works to alleviate healthcare shortages - spending on health in countries that have received debt cancellation has risen by seventy percent.
The report calls for urgent action to ensure developing countries’ can provide adequate healthcare:
- rich countries, institutions and commercial creditors must cancel all illegitimate (i.e. due to ‘unfair or irresponsible’ lending) and unpayable debts being claimed from all poor countries, not just those eligible for the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Initiative
- creditors should recognise debtor governments’ accountability to their own citizens, and not impose economic policies through conditions on debt relief or loans. This includes conditions limiting public spending or specifying how healthcare should be delivered
- southern governments must abide by the demands of their citizens that funds from debt cancellation be used to improve essential public services – and the governments must be open and accountable to their people over the use and monitoring of these funds.