World Health Report 2000: 10 years on
Author(s)/Editor(s): McKee M
Publisher/Organizer: Health Policy and Planning
Publication date: September 2010; Vol. 25, No. 5
“In this commentary I focus on the rankings of health system performance contained in the report’s statistical annex. The framework for understanding health systems employed in the main text has proven uncontroversial and is now used widely, while the accompanying text is an extremely valuable source of material for scholars of health systems.
In contrast, the country rankings have attracted considerable comment from researchers and politicians, much of it critical. Some, such as Navarro (2001), focused on what they perceived as an underlying pro-market ideology in many of the solutions proposed and the language used to justify them, in particular a seeming conflation of tax-funded national health services with the discredited Soviet system (perhaps anticipating the neo-liberal critiques of President Obama’s health care reforms a decade later).
He and others (Almeida et al. 2001) criticized what they saw as an unjustified dismissal of the primary care model set out at Alma Ata, which they attribute to the authors’ ideological opposition to an active role of government in funding and delivering health care. However, this view was not universal, with one commentator, writing in the Wall Street Journal, accusing the WHO of adopting a Marxist stance by arguing for any more than a token role for the state in providing health care (Helms 2000). Reflecting this diversity, Williams (2001) asked whether there are, in fact, universally agreed goals for health systems….”