Mon, May 20, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Austerity measures take their toll on public health

There’s a simple way to demonstrate that the way governments deal with the economic crisis has a direct effect on public health: Examine fluctuations in suicide rates. Economist and public health expert David Stuckler believes the facts speak for themselves

By Jon Henley  /  The Guardian, LONDON

“Our book shows that the cost of austerity can be calculated in human lives. It articulates how austerity kills. It shows austerity and health is always a false economy — no matter how positively some people view it, because for them it shrinks the role of the state, or reduces payments into a system they never use anyway,” Stuckler says.

When times are hard, governments need to invest more — or, at the very least, cut where it does least harm. It is dangerous and economically damaging to cut vital supports at a time when people need them most.

“So there is an opportunity here to make a lasting difference. To set our economies on track for a happier, healthier future, as we did in the postwar period. To get our priorities as a society right. It’s not yet too late. Almost, but not quite,” Stuckler says.

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