Macroeconomics and Health (CMH)

MacroHealth Newsletter

No. 11, November 2004


Research takes centre stage in November at two high-profile events in Mexico City. In publications news, the report of the WHO Asian Civil Society Conference on Macroeconomics and Health has now been made available on the MH website.

Spotlight on research at November events in Mexico

Both Macroeconomics and Health and the work of WHO's Pro-poor Health Policies group will be highlighted during three sessions at Forum 8, the annual meeting of the Global Forum on Health Research, and the Ministerial Summit for Health Research. Forum 8 will focus on global efforts to expand health research in neglected areas to support achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Ministerial Summit for Health Research is a parallel event organized by WHO and hosted by the Mexican Government. It will focus on how knowledge can be shared and translated into action at the country level to address the constraints to achieving the health-related MDGs. Both events will be held 16-20 November 2004 in Mexico City.

A Forum 8 parallel session is scheduled for the Mexican Commission on Macroeconomics and Health to present its work, the first comprehensive study of the relationship between health and development in Mexico (see below). Sergio Spinaci, Executive Secretary of the CMH Support Unit, will co-chair this session with Dr. Eduardo González Pier, CMMS Executive Secretary and Head of Economic Analysis, Ministry of Health, Mexico. A second parallel session entitled " Pro-poor Health Policies" will discuss the evidence on pro-poor health policy and equity within health systems for securing MDGs for the poor. The third event, a working session at the Ministerial Summit, will present the experiences of countries pursuing MH work in setting research priorities and linking this to national planning. In several countries, setting a research agenda that will most effectively inform national planning and policy-making has been directed by national MH commissions. Dr Julio Frenk, the Secretary of Health of Mexico, will give the opening remarks before opening up a dialogue among high-level policy makers.

Report from the WHO Asian Civil Society Conference on MH now available

The Report of the April 2004 WHO Asian Civil Society Conference on Macroeconomics and Health is now available on the Macroeconomics and Health website at The report gives an overview of the plenary presentations and working groups, concluding that civil society organizations (CSOs) have an important role to play in Macroeconomics and Health work to support the planning and implementation of health services delivery. They can advocate for and contribute to decision-making in national Macroeconomics and Health mechanisms; document ways of improving the health of the poor and make these lessons widely available; look into alternative ways of financing health care for the poor to avoid user fees and insurance premiums; can help prevent catastrophic health care costs; and are in a good position to promote and identify problems, issues and areas for Macroeconomics and Health research and conduct research themselves. They are crucial in health services delivery, especially at district level.

The Asian Civil Society Conference on Macroeconomics and Health brought together local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with activities in WHO's South-East Asia and the Western Pacific regions. In the unanimous consensus statement, included in the report, participants committed themselves to participate in national MH processes and asked their governments to ensure full involvement of civil society and NGOs.


Mexican National Commission to present final report

Research on the relationship between health and economic development in Mexico is an integral part of the Mexican National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health's soon-to-be released report. The report also aims to move from research to policy, identifying priority actions that are particularly relevant to a middle-income country like Mexico.

The Mexican National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, the CMMS, is now working on a national consultation report that will be presented in November 2004 at the Global Forum for Health Research. One of the main objectives of this report is to support with evidence the importance of health as a determinant of economic development in Mexico, as well as on the extent to which poverty traps derived from the presence of negative shocks on health and structural deficiencies in child nutrition, can be avoided with well-targeted social protection schemes in health.

In order to organize this demanding research project, the CMMS was divided into five working groups, each of them coordinated by one or several of its members. The groups were established based on a careful process in which policy needs were prioritized. The five working groups are the following: (1) Diagnosis of the health status of the Mexican population and of the public health system vis- à-vis the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals; (2) health, economic development and poverty reduction; (3) intra- and inter-sectoral health-related public policies; (4) health insurance and social protection; and (5) global and regional public goods for health in Mexico.

Following the structure of its working groups, the report reviews Mexico’s status vis-à-vis the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to health. In addition, the report analyzes the distribution of public and private resources allocated to health and evaluates the level, composition and distribution of health expenditures in light of the desired MDG and other complementary development goals. A key component of the report develops an analysis of social protection in health through two different strands: one focusing on universal medical insurance and the need for a universal scheme, which is associated in particular to the protection of the poor population against catastrophic expenditures; and a second approach, analyzing the impact of public goods in health in terms of their contribution to economic development.

The findings of the original Commission on Macroeconomics and Health (CMH) contributed sound evidence and convincing analysis to support the growing centrality of health in the global development agenda. However, both its conclusions and recommendations are mainly directed towards low-income countries. In the case of Mexico, and other middle- and high-income countries, one of the most significant challenges is related to the structure of the health systems and how to transform under-performing health systems into efficient, “right-sized” and value-delivering organizations. Given the better established relationship between health and the economy, it is of foremost importance that the health sector be properly funded so as to meet its needs and thus nurture the virtuous circle of health and economic development. For these reasons, the report of the CMMS intends to summarize some of the main challenges that Mexico, as many other middle-income countries, faces today and delineate possible public policy responses. Its purpose is to study the relationship between health and economic development in Mexico and to help identify priority actions that better link national economic and health policies.

Secretary of Health Julio Frenk established the CMMS in July 2002. The CMMS is composed of 28 commissioners, including some of Mexico’s distinguished economists, social scientists and researchers, who participate pro bono.

Secretariat of the Mexican Commission on Macroeconomics and Health