Around the World,  Global Threats,  Health

The Global Tide of Disease Mongering

By The Editors

A recent editorial in the British Medical Journal (BMJ 2013;346:f2809) highlights a new social health movement for healthcare reform that may prove crucial to global health in the 21st century.

This new social health movement aims to counter a global phenomenon, clearly defined in the editorial: “The results of medical research are often distorted or suppressed for commercial gain, and systems that attempt to control clinicians’ behaviour through payment by results drive over-diagnosis and over-treatment.”  In other words, it aims to counter over-diagnosis and over-treatment.

The new social health movement is based on a partnership model that affirms themes of mutual respect and combines the perspectives and resources of healthcare professionals, patient representatives, and consumer advocates.

The British Medical Journal editorial comes after an international conference held on February 2013.  The conference “Selling Sickness 2013 – People Before Profits” was designed to be part of a global progressive and activist health movement and resulted in A CALL TO ACTION statement that aims to unify professionals, researchers, activists, scholars, caregivers, advocates and all citizens alarmed by disease-mongering.  You can read the CALL TO ACTION ON SELLING SICKNESS here.

According to the Selling Sickness website, “The focus of the Call is twofold: first, to identify, in dramatic language, all the many aspects of disease-mongering that have alarmed us. And second, to offer a list of specific reforms that can make a difference in the state of medical science and health care.”

Interestingly, there has been some hesitancy to sign the CALL due to the energetic language used in it.  However, the Selling Sickness website states that “it is that very strength, that energy born of outrage and betrayal, that has fueled Selling Sickness this far.”

PLOS Medicine. Illustration by Giovanni Maki.


  • Leonore Tiefer

    The Selling Sickness Call to Action represents an innovative PARTNERSHIP MODEL FOR A SOCIAL HEALTH MOVEMENT. Consumers and heath professionals have complementary perceptions, skills, and networks each to contribute to a new movement, and SELLING SICKNESS will be working to move this vision forward. Please sign our CALL and contact us to join our mailing list and global movement.

  • ErinnGoBragh

    Overdiagnosis is a topic for debate in this country right now. The media likes to promote fear of a disease and convince people that early, aggressive treatment is always best. One condition that comes to mind in ADHD. It seems like doctors are just giving away prescriptions for ADHD like candy and put a nice big price tag on it because they know parents will pay it. Children who were once just hyper or absent minded now have a neurological disorder. Instead of parents teaching their children to release their energy in a productive way like exercise and giving them lessons in self-control, they give their children pills.

  • chow26

    One way to decrease disease mongering is to stop following the media so blindly. This is especially the case when new stations had a field day with the the N1H1 vaccine. One minute N1H1was good for you, the next minute it was bad, with the public being wish-washy on what they should do. We have to do some of the legwork in figuring out what medications are good, bad, and what will work for oneself, and not put all of our faith with everyone else,

  • nicole_v23

    I think that the health reform movement will greatly benefit us all. Everytime I hear about some awful new virus or disease causing an outbreak I can’t help but wonder why researchers aren’t able to come up with vaccines and cures sooner. I understand that these viruses are continuously evolving and it is often times difficult to pinpoint the source but as mentioned in the article it seems like its more competition amongst pharmaceutical companies and instead of being innovative they’re looking to beat each other. We live in a world in which profits are put before patients and that’s something more attention should be drawn to.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *