Aimed at changing the way countries view and finance health, the World Health organisation (WHO) has called for shifts in economic thinking in each country, region and globally. In a new report Health for All: Transforming economies to deliver what matters, the WHO provides a new framework built on the above four pillars, with specific recommendations under each.
WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All prepared the report.
“Two years ago, I asked a team of the world’s leading economists and public health experts – all women – to create a paradigm shift. Now, instead of health for all being seen as the servant of economic growth, we have a roadmap for structuring economic activity in a way that will allow us to reach the goal of seeing all people with access to essential health services faster with better results,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
“Over the past two years, the WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All has worked to craft a new economic narrative – one that transforms financing for health from an expenditure to an investment,” said the Council’s Chair, Professor Mariana Mazzucato. “We have examined the changes needed – including to the structure of patents, public-private partnerships, and budgets – to design an economy that delivers Health for All. In our final report, we call for new economic policy that is not about market fixing but about proactively and collaboratively shaping markets that prioritize human and planetary health.”
VALUING HEALTH FOR ALL
- Valuing the essential; treat health and wellbeing, health workers and health systems as a long-term investment, not a short-term cost
- Human rights;Use legal and financial commitments to enforce health as a human right.
- Planetary health; restore and protect the environment by upholding international commitments to a regenerative economy which links planet and people.
- Dashboard for a healthy economy; use a range of metrics that track progress across core societal values, above and beyond the narrow, static measure of gdp
FINANCING HEALTH FOR ALL
- Long-term finance; adopt a comprehensive, stable approach to funding health for all.
- Funding and governance of WHO; Ensure who is properly funded and governed to play its key global coordinating role in health for all.
- Quality of finance; redraw the international architecture of finance to fund health equitably and proactively, including an effective and inclusive crisis response.
INNOVATING FOR HEALTH FOR ALL
- Collective intelligence; build symbiotic public-private alliances to maximize public value, sharing both risk and rewards.
- Common good; design knowledge governance, including intellectual property regimes, for the common good to ensure global equitable access to vital health innovations. 10 outcomes orientation align innovation and industrial strategies with bold cross-sectoral missions to deliver health for all.
- Outcomes orientation; Align innovation and industrial strategies with bold cross-sectoral missions to deliver Health for All
STRENGTHENING PUBLIC CAPACIT Y FOR HEALTH FOR ALL
- Whole-of-government; recognize that health for all is not just for health ministries but for all government agencies.
- State capacity; invest in the dynamic capabilities of the public sector, institutionalizing experimentation and learning, to lead effectively in delivering health for all.
- Build trust; demonstrate transparency and meaningful public engagement to hold governments accountable for the common good.
The report also provides suggestions on what can be done in practice to implement the changes needed to reorient measures of economic value, the financing of health, innovation and building public sector capacity in the service of health for all. Among these, the report mentions several examples, including:
- The mRNA technology hub facility in South Africa: a values-driven system that tries to get the innovation, financing and capacity right ex-ante;
- Brazil’s public investment in a health-industrial complex that serves the common good;
- Regional development banks as enablers of change in the Global South;
- The Wellbeing Economy Alliance – an alliance of several governments and over 600 other organizations working together to transform economic systems in the service of life;
- Approaches to financing national action plans (NAPs) on antimicrobial resistance through multi sector joint budgeting, given that most NAPs remain unfunded.
The recommendations included in the report could change the way countries view and finance health. WHO calls on policy-makers, civil society, and members of the health and economics communities to give full consideration to the recommendations and use them as a compass to develop new economic policies and structures that can move us along the road to making health for all a reality.