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COVID-19 and Private Health: Market and Governance Failure

Owain David Williams ()
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Owain David Williams: University of Leeds

Development, 2020, vol. 63, issue 2, 181-190

Abstract: Abstract The COVID-19 pandemic has produced mass market failure in global private health, particularly in tertiary care. Low-and-middle income countries (LMICs) dependent on private providers as a consequence of neglect of national health systems or imposed conditionalities under neoliberal governance were particularly effected. When beds were most needed for the treatment of acute COVID-19 cases, private providers suffered a liquidity crisis, itself propelled by the primary effects of lockdowns, government regulations and patient deferrals, and the secondary economic impacts of the pandemic. This led to a private sector response—involving, variously, hospital closures, furloughing of staff, refusals of treatment, and attempts to profit by gouging patients. A crisis in state and government relations has multiplied across LMICs. Amid widespread national governance failures—either crisis bound or historic—with regards to poorly resourced public health services and burgeoning private health—governments have responded with increasing legal and financial interventions into national health markets. In contrast, multilateral governance has been path dependent with regard to ongoing commitments to privately provided health. Indeed, the global financial institutions appear to be using the COVID crisis as a means to recommit to the roll out of markets in global health, this involving the further scaling back of the state.

Keywords: Neoliberalism; Private health; Market failure; Governance failure; LMICs (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1057/s41301-020-00273-x

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