UCL: Health should be at centre of economic development

The World Health Organisation Council on the Economics of Health for All, chaired by Professor Mariana Mazzucato (Director, UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose – IIPP), is calling for a different approach to financing health as part of its latest set of recommendations.

A man walking with the help of crutches arrives to receive the dose of Johnson and Johnson vaccine at a hospital.
The Council’s new policy brief, ‘Financing Health for All: Increase, Transform and Redirect’, addresses the huge and growing inequities in global access to healthcare and health products.

For every 100 people in high income countries, 133 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered, whereas this figure in low-income countries is just four.

The brief calls for economic development to have health at its centre, rather than financial return, and to make financing for health a long-term investment rather than a short-term cost, to support a global recovery from the pandemic.

It has been published ahead of the G20 Summit in Rome on the 30 and 31 October, where heads of state will gather with a focus on people, planet and prosperity.

Professor Mazzucato said: “While health systems are under-resourced, more finance is not the only solution. The work of the Council stresses the need to reform and redirect finance in radical ways so that the objective of Health For All is designed into the financial structures, the conditionalities and the partnerships between business and the state.”

The policy brief sets out the way forward through three pathways to action:

Creating fiscal space by easing artificial constraints imposed by outdated economic assumptions
Directing investments to ensure that Health for All becomes the central purpose of economic activities
Governing public and private finance by regulating the functioning and financing of private health markets.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (WHO Director-General) said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated that the financing of health systems needs to change radically to protect and promote the health of all people. The latest report by the Council on the Economics of Health For All makes a clear and compelling argument for the need for sustained financing to be directed to achieving health for all people, and for investments to be understood as long-term gains for national and global development.”

The WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All was established in November 2020 by Dr Tedros, with Professor Mazzucato as its Chair. The Council’s core mission is to rethink how value in health and wellbeing is measured, produced and distributed across the economy, with the objective of building healthy societies that are just, inclusive, equitable and sustainable.

The Council is comprised of ten of the world’s leading economists and health experts, and it focuses on rethinking measurement of economic development, financing, capacity and innovation with the aim of achieving health for all.

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