Public health concerns have increased countries’ appetites to scale up implementation of health taxes (excise taxes imposed on unhealthy products like sugar, alcohol, tobacco, certain fuel types). These measures improve health and can also raise revenue with relatively low administrative costs.
The area of health taxes is cross-cutting, as it involves health, public finance, governance and also international trade. Various agencies in the health and finance spheres (UN organizations and programs, the World Bank) have initiated or are willing to initiate projects aimed at accelerating implementation of health taxes. There is a need for WHO and other agencies to coordinate efforts, align priorities and develop a strategy for the next years.
In light of this, WHO is convening a joint planning session on health taxes on 11 November 2019, in Montreux, Switzerland. One of the objectives of this session is to discuss establishing an interagency work stream to be hosted by WHO on the excise taxation of unhealthy products under Accelerator 1 of the Global Action Plan (Sustainable Financing). Other objectives address how WHO and other agencies can engage with the health financing community on health taxes.
For this session, WHO will convene:
- Relevant WHO HQ programmes
- WHO regional focal points for health financing
- IMF/World Bank representatives
- National health and finance representatives