Global experts of new WHO Council on Economics of Health For All announced

  • Initial 11 members are distinguished experts in economics, health, government, finance and development from around the world.
  • Council’s focus is on new strategies to shape economies and financial systems with the objective of building healthy societies that are just, inclusive, equitable and sustainable. It will incorporate lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Council will hold its first meeting on 6 May 2021 led by Chair Mariana Mazzucato, Professor of the Economics of Innovation and Public Value and Founding Director in the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London.

WHO is convening 11 leading figures in economics, health and development from around the world as the first members of the WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All. The Council’s role is to provide independent advice to the Director-General on addressing interrelated health and economic challenges and mapping out a way forward that supports communities and countries to build healthy societies. To do so, it will provide recommendations for a new approach to shape the economy that supports health for all as an overall goal, including more equitable and effective health systems.

“I am delighted that WHO is convening this talented and driven group of global experts as the WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All, which is Chaired by the distinguished economist Professor Mariana Mazzucato,” said Dr Tedros. “I established this Council precisely to gather leading experts in economics, policy development and health, and to benefit from their knowledge and skill. I urge them to advise on a new way forward that ensures health is at the heart of all government action and investment decisions. We must value and invest in health as our most important commodity. “

The Council is holding its inaugural meeting today, kickstarting a robust and wide-ranging process to gather insights and develop actionable plans and forward looking practices built on real-world examples and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patron of the Council, H.E. Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland, said the new body will provide strong support to WHO and countries in addressing the interconnected issues of public health and the economy.

Prime Minister Marin said: “The pandemic has had a momentous impact on health, economies and societies around the world. At the same time, it has shown that, with the right approach, it is possible to protect the vulnerable, to safeguard both health and the economy. It has underlined the meaning of global solidarity and the importance of putting people at the centre of decision-making. The participation of women in the policy design and at the heart of response and recovery is essential.”

She added: “We strongly believe that this Council will provide invaluable advice to both to the Secretariat and the Member States.”

In addition to Professor Mariana Mazzucato, as Chair, the inaugural members of the council are Professor Senait Fiesseha, Professor Jayati Ghosh, Vanessa Huang, Professor Stephanie Kelton, Professor Ilona Kickbusch, Linah Kelebogile Mohohlo, Dr Zélia Maria Profeta da Luz, Kate Raworth and Dame Marilyn Waring. Additional members may be appointed. Dr Vera Songwe will join as a special guest.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shone the brightest light ever on the great lack of capacity and alignment among essential sectors in society in how they respond to the interlinked health and economic challenges people face in their daily lives,” said Professor Mazzucato, Council Chair, Professor of the Economics of Innovation and Public Value and Founding Director in the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London. “Government capacities for protecting public health and, in turn, safeguarding and boosting economies require interlinked strategies, investment and political commitment. Health for all must be at the heart of government investment and innovation decisions—and it must be governed with the common good in mind. The Council will work to address these many challenges and offer the world a path forward.”

The WHO Council aims to reframe health for all, as a global objective, and ensure that national and global economies and finance are structured in such a way to deliver on this ambitious goal. This includes advice on what can be done and practical tools in four important areas: new ways to measure and value health for all, build up public sector capacity to drive transformative change and innovate towards achieving population health goals, and, to ensure financial systems invest in creating health. This requires a transformation in financing for health, not as a cost but a long-term investment for a “healthy society,” grounded in the fundamental truth that health and the economy are interdependent.

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