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Stepping up Action in Countries: Top health and Finance Officials meet Partners on improving Health of the Poor

Senior officials from developing countries and development partners are convened at the World Health Organization's Geneva headquarters today and tomorrow to start turning theory - on improving health, which spurs economic development — into action.

Health, finance and planning ministries of about 20 developing countries are meeting with partners from a dozen bilateral agencies and foundations on how best to apply revolutionary findings on improving health and boosting development into marked results in countries.

The Commission on Macroeconomics and Health (CMH) which was established in January 2000 by WHO Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland and chaired by one of the world's leading development economist Jeffrey Sachs, delivered its pioneering report on Investing in Health for Economic Development six months ago.(http://www3.who.int/whosis/cmh/cmh_report/e/report.cfm?path=cmh,cmh_report&language=englishhttp://www3.who.int/whosis/cmh/cmh_report/e/report.cfm?path=cmh,cmh_report&language=french).The report generated intense interest in the development community and in many states.

"Greater investment by both developing and wealthy countries in current, proven technologies for disease control would save millions of lives of the poor every year. A healthy population is a prerequisite for economic growth," said Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). "We have a new framework, now let’s find ways to apply it optimally in countries."

The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss how to take forward the action agenda of the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health at country level as an important component of the Poverty Reduction Strategy process towards the attainment of Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

The CMH Report calls for the scaling up of cost-effective interventions such as prevention of HIV transmissions and AIDS treatment, the TB DOTS strategy, malaria prevention by bed-nets and treatment by effective medicines and prevention of maternal and children mortality actions.

Participants at the meeting will explore how best to apply and adapt the CMH strategic framework to national contexts which are extremely varied and pose real challenges to scaling up actions on health of the poor. Specifically,

Developing countries will have the opportunity to comment on the CMH and describe national responses to the report’s recommendations.

The need (or not) for new processes or mechanisms in countries, such as national macroeconomics and health commissions, will be debated.

Developing countries are expected to describe needs for external support to the international and bilateral partners and what form this assistance should take for maximal results.

WHO and other agencies will determine with greater precision how best they can support countries technically in applying the CMH concept on a national level.

The Vice-President of the Republic of Tanzania, His Excellency Dr Ali Mohamed Shein, will deliver the keynote address. followed by introductory remarks by several agency Heads.

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For more information contact:

Ms Melinda Henry
Telephone: +41 (22) 791 2535
Mobile phone: +41 (79) 477 1738
Fax: +41 (22) 791 4858
E-mail: henrym@who.int