I swear by Mammon, Larry Summers, Jeffrey Sachs, David de Ferranti and all the mighty gods and sexy goddesses of the Lancet as my witnesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath (and, more importantly, respect this contract):

  • To hold him who taught me the art of (health) economics equally dear to me as my parents – especially if he did so in a cost-effective way (as this is not the Hippocratic oath of the maternal health community, gender-sensitive wording will be for some other time). To be a partner in life (crime?) with him, and to fulfill his needs when required, while carefully avoiding perverse side effects. To look upon his offspring as equals to my own siblings, and to teach them this great art, if they shall wish to learn it. As there is no such thing as a free lunch in the world of (health) economists, I will obviously charge a hefty fee for this service. By the set rules, lectures, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the art to my own sons and daughters, and those of my teachers, and to students bound by this contract and having sworn this Oath to the law of (health) economics, but to no others. The NSA will make sure about that.
  • I will use my fancy economic toolbox and peerless mind to improve the functioning of health systems, according to my greatest ability and judgment, and I will do no harm to health systems. I will not suggest any ‘worst practice’ to any policy maker even if I am begged for it, nor will I advise such a horrible plan; and similarly I will not give a policy maker a  “scientific” pretext to mess up the health system in his country.
  • I will not use the butcher’s knife nor ill-advised shock therapies on public health systems and society in general, but will instead aim for equity in all I do. Into whichever country I go, I will enter for the benefit of the sick and needy, while trying to rip off the healthy wealthy. I will avoid imposing my own ideological truth, and will refrain from seducing policy makers and bureaucrats from recipient countries with buzzwords and tempting ‘quick wins’, or from imposing donor agendas.  As from now on, I only know “partnerships”.
  • Whatever I see or hear in health systems, whether in connection with my professional practice or not, which ought not to be spoken of outside, I will keep secret, as considering all such things to be private. Transparency and accountability are fine, but if they’re not in the contract, they don’t exist, as far as I am concerned. Again, the NSA will be my witness.

So long as I maintain this Oath faithfully and without corruption, may it be granted to me to partake of life fully and the practice of my art, gaining the respect of all men and women for all time, as well as a handsome incentive package. Life should be value for money then. However, should I transgress this Oath and violate it, there will be a harsh penalty, as stipulated in this contract. Then the invisible hand of the market of (health) economists will punish me, as well as the visible hand of the Lancet Editor-in-Chief. The ICC is also an option. Last but not least, I will no longer be considered a health economist then, but be known as a “social scientist” for the rest of my life. Scarce resources will then be my fate.

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