SARS, Globalisation and Public Health: Global Medicine

Hong Kong’s economy has taken a beating from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) comparable to that inflicted by the Asian economic crisis in the late 1990s. But there is another similarity between the two: both are related in complex ways to the economic transformation process termed ‘globalisation’. Like the economic crisis, SARS compels us to recognise that global markets need to be managed and regulated. Public services such as health systems are indispensible. This involves concerted public action and intervention, but here is the conundrum: globalisation creates new constraints on the supply of these collective goods.

The World Today Published 1 June 2003 Updated 21 October 2020 3 minute READ

Kanishka Jayasuriya

Associate Professor, Department of Politics and Public Administration, City University, Hong Kong

While a global economy produces demands for regulation essential for the stability of the economic order, it is evident that the reach and capacity of the nation-state to provide this has been eroded. Effective regulatory institutions need to cut across global, regional and national levels.

One of the striking things about the SARS crisis is that it underlines how vital public goods such as health systems are for global economic stability; at the same time the very process of economic transformation in a country such as China is eroding these fundamental common resources.

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