Macroeconomics and Health (CMH)

Investing in health for Africa's socioeconomic development

Background

The Commission on Macroeconomics and Health (CMH), consisting of leading economists and public health experts, was set up by WHO's Director-General in 2000 to study the links between increased investment in health, economic development and poverty reduction. In its December 2001 Report, the eighteen member Commission placed health at the centre of the global development agenda. The key findings are summarized in the Annex.

The greatest achievements, the Commission says, can be made by focusing on the health of the poor and on the least-developed countries in Africa and elsewhere in the world. Improving the health and longevity of the poor is an end by itself and a fundamental goal of economic development. It is also the means for helping achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in health, set by world leaders in 2000.

The Commission - on the basis of the work of its six working groups and 95 studies produced by them- reached the conclusion that by 2015-2020, increased health investments of US$66 billion per year above current spending will generate at least $360 billion annually -a six-fold return on the investment. About half of this will be as a result of direct economic benefits: the world's poorest people will live longer, have many more days of good health and, as a result, will be able to earn more. The other half will be as a consequence of the indirect economic benefits from this greater individual productivity. A drastic scaling up of the coverage of cost-effective essential public health interventions, through increased investment in health, could also save eight million lives a year by 2010.

To significantly mobilize more resources for scaling up essential public health interventions, the CMH report envisions an unprecedented level of partnership between rich and poor countries, multilateral and bilateral organizations, and other interested actors.

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