Sick Development

How rich-country government and World Bank funding to for-profit private hospitals causes harm, and why it should be stopped

Development finance institutions owned by European governments and the World Bank Group are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on expensive for-profit hospitals in the Global South that block patients from getting care, or bankrupt them, with some even imprisoning patients who cannot afford their bills.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of these same hospitals denied entry to patients suffering from the virus or sold intensive care beds at eyewatering prices to the highest bidder. These development institutions have woefully inadequate safeguards, invest via a complex web of tax-avoiding financial intermediaries, and offer little to zero evidence on the impacts their investments are having. Oxfam is calling on rich-country governments and the World Bank Group to immediately halt their spending on for-profit private healthcare, and for an urgent independent investigation to be conducted into all active and historic investments.

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