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Invest in health to close gap between rich and poor, say leading economists

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Some of the world’s leading economists have come together to look at ways in which the health gap between the richest and poorest people on the planet can be closed.

Twenty-five investment researchers claim that the gulf could be closed within a generation, through investment in research, vaccination and drugs to combat diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis.

The Global Health 2035 commission, which is chaired by Prof Lawrence Summers from Harvard University, has compiled a report looking at ways in which investment can help shape the future of global health.

It makes the case that returns on investing in health are greater than initially predicted, and says that if policymakers approach the issue correctly, the world could achieve a “great conversance”  within a generation – by 2035 – and could see infectious, maternal and premature deaths brought down to a universal low.

It adds that taxes and subsidies are a “powerful and underused for curbing non-communicable diseases and injuries”, and that the most effective way to bring about health and financial protection is to target the poor from the outset.

Commenting on the report, Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, said that current levels of government health financing needed to be scaled up from less than 2% to between 3-4%.

He added, “Governments must lead the way, but governments cannot do it alone: the private sector, international organisations, foundations, and civil society all have key parts to play.

Policymakers need to harness the resources and the innovative approaches of these multiple actors, working in concert with a vibrant public sector.”

Further reading:

Pharma firms call on government to invest in drug innovation

We’ll invest in GlaxoSmithKline for as long as it’s 100% committed to cleaning up its act

What do we need to change to make the NHS sustainable?

On this day in 1948: the National Health Service is born

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