Special Issue No. 7: Consultation on Macroeconomics and Health: December 2003
Increasing investments in health outcomes for the poor: The opening session
WHO Director General LEE Jong-wook opened the Ministerial Consultation by first noting the importance of improved health for poverty reduction. He then highlighted WHO's commitment to the goal of '3 by 5' - getting 3 million people in developing countries on antiretroviral treatment by the end of 2005. Dr Lee reported that work should focus on results and that tools and systems for measurement must be improved and be used for better management. In addition, significant increases in financial and human resources must be made to improve the delivery of services. Learning from health crises like SARS would enable the world to work with greater speed and determination. Finally, the government must play a strong role in coordinating the multitude of efforts to improve health systems. Please visit: http://www.who.int/dg/lee/speeches/2003/cmh/en/.
"We will work with International Financing Institutions and highly-indebted countries to transfer debts to increased investments for '3 by 5' and other health needs. These other health needs include the fight against TB and malaria; the completion of polio eradication; prevention of tobacco-related and other noncommunicable diseases; and the reduction of maternal and child mortality. Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers provide an important opportunity to reflect these important health priorities in intersectoral approaches to poverty reduction."
Dr LEE Jong-wook
Following Dr Lee's speech, Dr Kerstin Leitner, Assistant Director-General for WHO Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments cluster, presented the Chairs for the Ministerial Consultation.
A statement by Mrs Sushma Swaraj, Minister of Health of India, followed the Director-General's speech, highlighting the challenge that countries face today in locating resources and using them in an efficient way, giving attention to changing demographics, epidemiology, and equity issues. The Minister voiced the crucial place of health in development as underscored in the CMH Report and in many world summits. Mrs Swaraj cited motivation of health care personnel and increased domestic and external resources for health as key to expanding access to primary health care, reducing infant and maternal mortality, controlling communicable diseases and preventing the increase in lifestyle diseases. Please visit: http://www.who.int/macrohealth/infocentre/presentations/india_oct29/en/
The Consultation opening session was closed with a keynote address by Professor Lincoln Chen of Harvard University who noted that the world is facing the "double crises" of devastating diseases overwhelming failing health systems in poor communities. He said that urgent mobilization of financial and social resources is needed and stressed the importance of cementing a "new alliance" between public health and finance. More money must be mobilized for health, but available funds must also be used better. Human resources issues must be addressed, and social mobilization is necessary. Finally, official development assistance for health is still far short of the extra $27 billion annually recommended by the CMH Report and must be increased to all key regions and sectors, while at the same time dealing with challenges like aid dependency and absorption bottlenecks. Please visit: http://www.who.int/macrohealth/infocentre/speeches/keynote/en/
Achieving the millennium development goals: Health in the developing world
The address of Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University was provocative in emphasizing that while developing countries can absorb substantial increases in development assistance, funds fall dramatically short of meeting countries? urgent health needs. He emphasized that the funds required - $27 billion by 2007 - are widely available in rich nations, and urged developing country leaders to request increased assistance for health based on a realistic assessment of their needs. He recommended four steps forward. First, countries must develop a strategy for achieving universal access to essential health services, followed by a plan for sequencing of investments. Third, a financial plan should be produced and must include significant increases in external assistance. Finally, advocacy is necessary to bring in critical stakeholders. Please visit: http://www.who.int/macrohealth/infocentre/speeches/en/sachs_speech.pdf [pdf 104kb]