REVEALED: Public money is funding private healthcare

25 January 2021 — Global Justice Now

The UK government has used half a billion pounds of aid money to fund unaffordable private healthcare services in the global south. We need to take a stand and demand that public money is used to support universal public healthcare instead.

Our latest research reveals that the UK development bank, CDC Group, has invested £420 million in private healthcare ventures in the past decade. It was reported in The Times today and on Saturday.

This includes hospitals in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kenya that have been accused of either deliberately overcharging patients, charging unaffordable prices for Covid treatment and testing, or have refused to treat non fee-paying patients.

£60 million of this has been invested through private equity funds that have made a series of dubious investments, including a cosmetic surgery clinic in India and an elite fitness club in Brazil.

On top of this, the government has given £79 million in aid to a programme designed to increase UK health exports. Instead of tackling poverty, our government is once again redirecting aid to support its own economic interests and promote privatisation.

As part of defending the aid budget from the planned cuts, we must also stop it being misused in this way for the benefit of big business. Will you share our report on social media to help us expose the corporate hijack of aid?

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Read the full report here

The whole model of investing development funds in private healthcare and private equity funds is wrong. Private services are almost always unaffordable to many, and they undermine public services by draining vital staff and resources. 

But even we were shocked by some of our government’s aid spending in the name of health. One hospital in Kenya was described as having a “trading floor” culture where doctors would deliberately admit and overtreat patients to squeeze more money out of them.

One private hospital in India is facing potential legal proceedings after refusing to treat Covid-19 patients referred to them by the government. 

And when a Times journalist asked CDC Group why they had invested in a cosmetic surgery clinic, they agreed it was a bad idea but blamed the fund they invested in! This shows why financiers can’t be trusted to make important decisions on tackling poverty and inequality.

Entrusting development decisions to the private sector doesn’t work. We need to take a stand against the corporate hijack of aid which is diverting important funds away from communities and into private pockets.

As someone who has already supported our campaign against the corporate hijack of aid, can you share this latest report today

If you don’t use social media, you ca share this link to the petition via email or message: http://gju.st/3eccBuP

Governments and international institutions tell us they need to support the private sector because countries don’t have the funds they need to invest in public healthcare.

But there is an alternative.

The financial situation of governments in the global south is a consequence of colonial governments, multinational corporations and the super rich extracting their wealth on a massive scale.

During a global pandemic, we must surely recognise the importance of ensuring that everyone in the world has access to universal public healthcare. Whilst it is important to ensure that UK aid stops contributing to privatisation, aid alone is only part of the solution.

That is why we must also be ready to talk about the things that could help to fund public healthcare across the global south, from debt cancellation and wealth taxation to a rewrite of our global financial system and tax laws. 

In solidarity,

Daniel Willis
Global finance campaigner at Global Justice Now

Read more:

[1] Healthcare for all? How UK aid undermines universal public healthcare – https://www.globaljustice.org.uk/resources/healthcare-all-how-uk-aid-undermines-universal-public-healthcare

[2] CDC Group using British foreign aid to fund elite hospitals and gyms – https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/cdc-group-using-british-foreign-aid-to-fund-elite-hospitals-and-gyms-2xlrgdn56

[3] Foreign aid cash for liposuction and hair transplant clinic in India – https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/aid-cash-liposuction-hair-transplant-clinic-india-bangalore-79kkgwxl2

[4] Don’t just defend aid, make it just – https://newint.org/features/2020/11/27/dont-just-defend-aid-make-it-just

[5] Exiting the permanent crisis in the global south – https://www.globaljustice.org.uk/sites/default/files/files/resources/global_reset_briefing_april_2020.pdf

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