Following the burst of the housing bubble in 2008 and the subsequent worldwide financial crisis, governments began looking for ways to tighten their purse strings. Austerity (the sequester in the US) is one of the main policy options to deal with heavy public debt. Sometimes a painful process and not without controversy, austerity generates substantial cuts to many public services. According to Dr. Basu, when approached incorrectly austerity can also have deadly consequences.
Drawing on case studies starting during the Great Depression up to the present day Basu has found that certain austerity measures have led to large public health problems such as HIV and malaria outbreaks, medicine shortages, increased heart attacks and even a recent outbreak of West Nile virus in California. However, it doesn’t have to be this way, according to Basu. Several countries such as Iceland and Japan have actually improved their public health situations in tough economic times. Which direction will the sequester take the US and California? Join the conversation with Dr. Sanjay Basu to find out.