Health standards have diminished due to controversial austerity measures adopted by the United States and European governments, researchers say.
In a book to be released this week, authors said on Monday that austerity measures have driven up suicide rates, depression and infectious diseases in the United States and Europe over a 10-year period of research during the “Great Recession”.
“The harms we have found include HIV and malaria outbreaks, shortages of essential medicines, lost healthcare access, and an avoidable epidemic of alcohol abuse, depression and suicide,” said David Stuckler, a senior researcher at Oxford University.
Patients also have reduced access to medicines and care, in which 10,000 suicides and up to a million cases of depression have been diagnosed, the study showed.
In Europe, HIV epidemics have spread in the course of cutbacks in services to vulnerable people, particularly with the Greeks experiencing a 200 percent rise in HIV rates since 2011 - in part due to increased drug abuse amid a 50 percent youth unemployment rate.
In the United States, over five million people have lost healthcare access during the latest recession. More than 40 percent of US residents went without health insurance or had coverage that didn't protect them against high medical costs last year.
The authors criticized Western governments for their failed economic and political policies, with politicians failing “to take into account the serious - and in some cases profound - health consequences of economic choices.”
Diminishing health standards amid austerity cuts may have been avoided as “worsening health is not an inevitable consequence of economic recessions - it's a political choice,” said Sanjay Basu, professor and epidemiologist at Stanford University.