Macroeconomics and Health: Investing in Health for Economic Development: Report of the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health

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OMS, Dec 1, 2001 - Law - 210 pages
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In response to the need to place health at the centre of the development agenda the Director-General of WHO appointed a Commission on Macroeconomics and Health consisting of a group of leading economists and health experts. The results of their work is presented in this report which offers a new strategy for investing in health for economic development especially in the world's poorest countries. Based upon a new global partnership of the developing and developed countries the report states that timely and bold action could save at least 8 million lives each year by the end of this decade extending the life spans productivity and economic well being of the poor. Such an effort would however require two important initiatives: a significant scaling up of the resources currently spent in the health sector by the poor countries and donors alike; and tackling the non-financial obstacles that have limited the capacity of poor countries to deliver health services. In the report the experts argue that the linkages of health to poverty reduction and economic growth are much more powerful than is generally understood. The report presents more scientific evidence than ever before to support the argument that health is critical to economic development in poor countries. Disease blocks economic growth. And a previously held argument - that health will automatically improve as a result of economic growth - is not supported by evidence. Diseases will not go away without specific investments in health interventions. Yet the resources - human scientific and financial - exist to succeed but now must be mobilized. The Commission also outlines a new global framework for access to life-saving medicines that includes norms on differential pricing schemes broader licensing and bulk purchase agreement. It also stresses that disease breeds instability and that rich countries are likely to benefit through greater political and social stability in the poor countries by helping to control the diseases of the poor. Given that just a few conditions account for most of the health deficit a few health steps could save millions of lives. There are existing effective interventions for the prevention and control of these conditions and large reductions in mortality and morbidity can be achieved almost anywhere even in war zones if financial resources are adequate. The report concludes that the benefits of the investment in global health would equal at least US $180 billion in direct economic benefits of extended healthy lifespan as of 2015-2020 and roughly the same amount due to faster economic growth for a total economic gain of at least US $360 billion per year.

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About the author (2001)

Jeffrey David Sachs was born November 5, 1954, in Detroit, Michigan. He attended Harvard College, where he received his B.A. summa cum laude in 1976. He went on to receive his M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from Harvard, and was invited to join the Harvard Society of Fellows while still a Harvard graduate student. In 1980, he joined the Harvard faculty as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1982. A year later, at the age of 29, Sachs became a Full Professor of economics with tenure at Harvard. During the next 19 years at Harvard, he became the Galen L. Stone Professor of International Trade, the Director of the Harvard Institute for International Development at the Kennedy School of Government (1995-1999), and the Director of the Center for International Development (1999-2002). Sachs is known for his work as an economic adviser to governments in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union. A trained macroeconomist, he advised a number of national governments in the transition from communism to market economies. Jeffrey Sachs has authored several publications. Some of his titles include Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet and The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity, which earned him a spot on Publisher's Weekly Best Seller List for 2011.

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