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Global Health Investments Should Be Paired With Support For Democracy, Accountable Governance

CNN: Democracy is good for your health
Tom Bollyky, director of the global health program at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Tara Templin, health policy Ph.D. student at Stanford University

“…Together with colleagues from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and Bilkent University, we published a study in The Lancet that is the first comprehensive assessment of the links between democracy, adult health, and disease-specific mortality in 170 nations over 46 years, 1970 to 2016. The findings are dramatic. … A nation’s democratic experience — a measure of how democratic a country has been and for how long — matters more than its gross domestic product in the reductions in deaths in a country from cardiovascular diseases, transportation injuries, cancers, and other noncommunicable diseases. … In the past, global health initiatives were strictly apolitical. Many of the largest recipients of foreign health aid rank among the least democratic nations of the world. But our research results suggest that it is not sustainable to treat a political system and the health of the people governed by it as unrelated. … [The study findings] require ensuring global health investments are paired with greater international support for democracy and governance … Healthy populations can only be sustained with healthy and accountable political systems. … [G]lobal health programs still have more work to do to put that insight into practice” (3/20).