We must value and invest in health as our most important commodity, said WHO Director General Dr Tedros
GENEVA, May 6 (The CONNECT) – The WHO has decided to convene a global think tank The Council on the Economics of Health for All with experts to advice the Director-General on addressing interrelated health and economic challenges and mapping out a way forward that supports communities and countries to build healthy societies.
The WHO Council will have 11 leading figures in economics, health and development from around the world as the first members and its role is to provide recommendations for a new approach to shape the economy that supports health for all as an overall goal, including more equitable and effective health systems.
Announcing the Council, to be headed by distinguished economist Professor Mariana Mazzucato, WHO Directors General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “I urge them (the Council members) to advise on a new way forward that ensures health is at the heart of all government action and investment decisions. We must value and invest in health as our most important commodity.”
The Council held its inaugural meeting today, kickstarting a robust and wide-ranging process to gather insights and develop actionable plans and forward-looking practices built on real-world examples and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patron of the Council, Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland, said the new body will provide strong support to WHO and countries in addressing the interconnected issues of public health and the economy.
Prime Minister Marin said: “The pandemic has had a momentous impact on health, economies and societies around the world. At the same time, it has shown that, with the right approach, it is possible to protect the vulnerable, to safeguard both health and the economy. It has underlined the meaning of global solidarity and the importance of putting people at the centre of decision-making. The participation of women in the policy design and at the heart of response and recovery is essential.”
“We strongly believe that this Council will provide invaluable advice to both to the Secretariat and the Member States,” she added.
Mazzucato, who is also Professor of the Economics of Innovation and Public Value and Founding Director in the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has shone the brightest light ever on the great lack of capacity and alignment among essential sectors in society in how they respond to the interlinked health and economic challenges people face in their daily lives.”
“Government capacities for protecting public health and, in turn, safeguarding and boosting economies require interlinked strategies, investment and political commitment. Health for all must be at the heart of government investment and innovation decisions—and it must be governed with the common good in mind. The Council will work to address these many challenges and offer the world a path forward,” he said.
In addition to Professor Mariana Mazzucato, as Chair, the inaugural members of the council are Professor Senait Fiesseha, Professor Jayati Ghosh, Vanessa Huang, Professor Stephanie Kelton, Professor Ilona Kickbusch, Linah Kelebogile Mohohlo, Dr Zélia Maria Profeta da Luz, Kate Raworth and Dame Marilyn Waring. Additional members may be appointed. Dr Vera Songwe will join as a special guest.