Against the Grain: Sickness and Wealth

[Editor's Note: This is a partial transcript of Against the Grain, a radio show hosted and co-produced by C.S. Soong and produced by Sasha Lilley. Against the Grain airs Monday through Wednesday on Pacifica Radio station KPFA 94.1 in Berkeley, Calif. This show originally aired on April 19, 2006, and is available as a podcast from]

You are listening to Against the Grain on Pacifica Radio and online at, my name is C.S. Soong.

More money goes into healthcare in this country than anywhere else in the world. Money devoted to medical care and medical research and the latest technology would seem to point the way to a healthy population -- healthier, you might assume, than all the other countries who spend less than us on health care, which is to say all other countries.

But, says my first guest today, that is not the case. Well, what's the reason then? What individual behaviors, or social or economic factors, correlate most strongly with better or worse population health? Today I'm joined by two contributors to a book entitled "Sickness and Wealth: The Corporate Assault on Global Health." Later in the hour we'll be joined by an epidemiologist and activist named Tim Holtz, who's co-authored an essay about the resurgence of malaria in certain parts of the world.

We begin with Stephen Bezruchka, who teaches in the International Health Program at the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine. Stephen has worked as a physician for more than 30 years in the US, Canada and Nepal; his academic work focuses on the weaknesses of the US health system and the declining health of Americans relative to people in other countries. He joins us now from Seattle; welcome to you. Let's get some basic facts established first. How much money is spent on health care in this country relative to the rest of the world?

The rest of this episode of Against the Grain is available for download from AlterNet and by as a podcast from

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