Kambiz Boomla

Vital Signs: The Deadly Costs of Health Inequality

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Why is it that, the world over, people’s health is so poor, despite large amounts of money being spent on healthcare, and in every country large differences remain between the health of the rich and of the poor? This big question is tackled comprehensively in this short book that ranges over a number of themes relating to health and healthcare.

NHS struggle of life and death

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Healthcare under capitalism has always been a contest between the needs of workers and desires of capital, and now the National Health Service faces its biggest battle ever.

The appointment of Simon Stevens, a top executive from the largest US private healthcare firm, United Healthcare (and former health adviser to Tony Blair), to be the new chief executive of the National Health Service (NHS) will do more than send a shiver down the spine of all 50,000 campaigners who marched magnificently in Manchester in September.

Morbid Symptoms: Health under Capitalism

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Leo Panitch and Colin Leys, Merlin Press, £15.95

The editors of this year's Socialist Register describe their goal as seeking to develop a historical materialist analysis of health under capitalism. They aim to focus on what has happened in the current neoliberal period, looking at healthcare as an object of struggle between commercial forces seeking to make it a profitable commodity and popular forces trying to keep it a public service.

One could not fail to be impressed by the breadth of articles in this collection, covering both health and healthcare, both developed and Third World countries.

A Breakthrough for the Left, a Setback for New Labour

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Kevin Morton, the Tower Hamlets Labour councillor, should be ashamed of his recent remarks in which he compared Oliur Rahman's historic victory for Respect in the St Dunstan's and Stepney Green by-election with the BNP's victory in Millwall in 1993.

It displays ignorance, as not only did Respect humiliate Labour, but so did the Lib Dems. Respect's votes and support came from all sections of our community-from many who opposed the immoral war against Iraq, white voters as well as Bengali.

Conspicuous Consumption

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Review of 'The Return of the White Plague', Editors Matthew Gandy and
Alimuddin Zumla, Verso £25

When I was a medical student in the 1970s, we were taught that tuberculosis (TB) - called the White Plague or consumption, as its victims died thin and an ashen white colour - was on the way out. It would shortly be added to the list of diseases like smallpox that had been eradicated or at least marginalised by progress in medical science. The antibiotics were good, and there was even a vaccine.

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