53rd session, WHO Regional Committee for Africa - September 2003
The August inter-country workshop in Ethiopia prepared the ground for further promoting macroeconomics and health concepts during the 53rd session of WHO’s Regional Committee meeting held in Johannesburg in September 2003. A “Macroeconomics and health: the way forward in the African Region” presentation was delivered during the session, with Ministers of Health unanimously affirming the importance of these concepts and adopting a Resolution on macroeconomics and health. It was agreed that progress reports on national work achieved will be presented at every Regional Committee session each year. The Ministers noted that macroeconomics and health work should be country-owned and driven, and consensus on concepts should be first built within the ministries of health before other ministries become involved.
During the session, it was emphasized that countries must accelerate efforts to allocate 15% of government budgets to health, as put forward in the 2001 Abuja Declaration. To do so, participants recommended that studies be conducted to provide the evidence for increasing investment in health. Also, they noted that as there is an urgent need for more resources, the private sector must be involved more closely in the financing and provision of health services, and debt relief must be seriously addressed. There is also need for a clear agreement between UN agencies, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund to ensure that structural adjustment does not hinder efforts to expand health care.
WHO’s role in these efforts will include helping to articulate the relationship between poverty reduction strategies and macroeconomics and health work. WHO will provide technical and financial backing in this area, and support with advocacy and the dissemination of concepts and messages.