20 December 2001
WHO WELCOMES GROUNDBREAKING REPORT
London – Today, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland welcomed a landmark report on the links between macroeconomics and health. The report is the result of a two year effort by the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, a group of 18 leading economists and health experts.
"This report is a turning point," said Dr Brundtland as she received the report from Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, the Harvard economist who chaired the Commission. "It will influence how development assistance is prioritized and coordinated in the years to come."
Dr Brundtland, who chaired the UN Commission on Environment and Development 15 years ago, created the Commission and asked it to clarify the links between health and economic development. Six expert working groups supported it in this task.
The report shows that just a few health conditions are responsible for a high proportion of the avoidable deaths in the poor countries and that well-targeted measures, using existing technologies, could save the lives of around 8 million people per year and generate yearly economic benefits of more than $360 billion by 2015–2020.
The Commission argues that proper investment in a country's human resources is a powerful engine for economic growth. Quite simply, good health is an essential pre-requisite for equitable development and fair globalization.
The report sets out a framework by which low- and middle-income countries would commit additional domestic financial resources and political leadership and, in many cases, improve transparency and accountability and increase community involvement in health care. At the same time, high-income countries would commit to a substantial increase in financial assistance to the countries that need help most urgently.
"It is important to see the report not as just another plea for more resources for health," said Dr Brundtland. "The Commission is arguing for a comprehensive, global approach to development assistance, which underlines the need for investments towards concrete goals within specific time-frames."
Dr Brundtland said that WHO will study this report closely, and that she expects it will have a profound influence on how WHO and its partners will scale up and prioritize their work for better global health.
"The key to action is to ensure that health is taken seriously at the highest levels of the political leadership," Dr Brundtland said.
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