Dr Julio Frenk. Special profile:
Dean of Harvard's School of Public Health
Dr Julio Frenk leads a panel at the Special Forum on Health
15 June 2009 | New York - Dr Julio Frenk, Mexico's former Minister of Health and newest Dean of Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) is one of the world's leaders in health systems reform. On June 15, Dr Frenk led a panel at the special Forum on Health called by the United Nations Secretary-General: Advancing Global Health in the Face of Crisis. As moderator of the panel, "Building resilient health systems: strengthening delivery from global to local", Dr Frenk brought together high-level discussants from ministries of health in developing and G8 countries and from the multilateral organizations and foundations to help define global solutions for global health systems challenges.
Excerpt from the Harvard Public School review article on Dr Julio Frenk
The Harvard Public Health Review has recently profiled their newest Dean, Dr Frenk, exploring the global health leader, his dedication to public health, evidence and research, prevention and health systems. In it, Dr Frenk touches on the centrality of maternal and child health for building a healthy society, economic development, health and recovery. Below, we highlight some of this article, re-printed with permission from the Harvard Public Health Review.
"Question: How can the global health community address the (greatest public health) challenges?
"Answer: For evidence of this we have only to look at our global economic crisis. Look too at pandemics: If there is an outbreak in another part of the world, it will eventually affect us. Moreover, when we see 10 million children die of unnecessary causes in poor countries, it presents an ethical dilemma for all of us who are privileged to live in the United States. These children are not dying from rare diseases; we have the tools to prevent the death of a child.
"Apart from these humanitarian considerations, our world neighbors need to have healthy children and healthy adults to be able to grow economically. All of this in turn benefits the U.S. economy. Finally, in those countries where children die early and mothers die in the act of giving life, injustice breeds. This injustice can lead to unrest. We must all recognize that we cannot aspire to have a secure world if we do not combat the root causes of insecurity, the most dramatic of which are unnecessary illness, suffering, and death.
"You don’t get out of an economic crisis without healthy people. Healthy adults drive the economy; healthy children represent the human capital of a nation. Spending on health is a great way to create high-value-added jobs, particularly in the health sector, which is of particular importance in addressing the health worker crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa. That said, there are better and worse ways of spending. It is important to achieve not only more money for health, but also more health for the money. If you can show that you can make a health system that actually works, this will have a multiplying effect."
Q: Some shake their heads, insisting that the problems public health addresses are overwhelming and unsolvable. What would you say to them?
"Answer: I am an optimist. I have seen what public health has done for humanity in the 20th century. We doubled life expectancy. The challenges are huge, but we have never before had the set of resources—intellectual, technological, societal—that we do now. Why is it that the wealthiest people in the world, when they set up their philanthropic enterprises, see public health as a top priority? It is because money spent on health is money well spent. We are hard-pressed to find any area of activity that has yielded more benefits to humankind than public health."
A Quest for Equity - Dr Julio Frenk Career Highlights
1998: At the World Health Organization, where HSPH alumna Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland is Director General, creates the first unit explicitly charged with using scientific knowledge to drive policy change
2000: Named Minister of Health in Mexico under President Vicente Fox
2001–2006: Spearheads Seguro Popular, a program to provide health insurance to 50 percent of Mexicans—mostly poor—who have none
2007: Serves as senior fellow in global health at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and as president of the Carso Health Institute, in Mexico City, a foundation that spurs health systems innovation
2008: Receives Clinton Global Citizen Award in recognition of Mexico’s landmark universal insurance program; named Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, effective January of 2009
2009: Co-Chairs, with Anne Mills, Working Group 1 on Costing and Constraints of the High-Level Task Force on Innovative International Financing HLTF WG1. The report of which will be presented at the G8 meeting in Italy in July 2009.
2009: (15 June) Moderator of the Panel: Building resilient health systems: strengthening delivery from global to local at the UN Secretary-General's Special Forum on Advancing Global health in the Face of Crisis
The Harvard School of Public Health is part of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative -- a member of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.