The Alternatives: Global perspectives for healthier lives

The scale of the global health challenges we face can make it easy to forget that alternatives are possible. But not only are they possible – they are being implemented right now!

From the strong welfare of the Nordic countries to the promotion of technology and research and development in South Korea. From Ecuador’s focus on the Good Life to Cuba’s agro-ecology which has made it the most sustainable country on the planet!

Around the world, there are a range of approaches that in different ways are delivering healthier environments and healthier lives.

It can be hard to remember this when, for the last 40 years, international financial institutions and many governments have pursued the opposite. Their approach – neoliberalism – promotes privatisation, austerity, deregulation and reductions in government spending. Its results have often driven us headlong into poor health, poverty, insecurity, and vast inequality.

But this is not inevitable. Around the world, there are countries and approaches that are improving health by valuing what matters. These alternatives can provide inspiration for all of us as we work towards full and healthy lives.

  • Citizens of the Nordic countries are the healthiest and most ‘satisfied’ in the world thanks to comprehensive welfare states, high levels of public spending, strong labour unions and (in the case of Norway) a strong ownership role for the state in key companies.
  • Cuba’s state-owned, world-rated biotechnology sector produces over 70% of the medicines consumed by Cubans. Its openness to innovation, and focus on agro-ecology has increased food production and led to it being ranked the most sustainable country on the planet!
  • In just over half a century, South Korea has journeyed from chronic poverty to aid donor. Key reasons for its success include the gradual and carefully sequenced opening of markets; nurturing of domestic firms; and government ownership of banks.
  • Ecuador has made gains in welfare and reductions in poverty and inequality, and achieved the world’s most ‘inclusive’ growth. In 2008 the government enshrined the right to a Good Life in its Constitution. It also increased taxes on companies and invested in renewable energy, education and reducing poverty.

Find out more in our new report: The Alternatives: approaches towards a Life in Full

Watch our launch event here:

What are your alternatives? Join the conversation on Twitter. Tweet your ideas for better health using the hashtag #TheAlternatives or record and share a short video

Here are some for inspiration:

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