Investing in Health
Developing country governments and aid agencies face difficult decisions on how best to allocate their finite resources. Investments in many different sectors – including education, water and sanitation, transportation, and health – can all reap social and economic benefits. This report, ‘Investing in health: The economic case’ focuses specifically on the health sector. It presents compelling evidence of the value of scaling-up health investments. The economic case for increasing these investments in health has never been stronger.
Having made progress in reducing maternal and child mortality, and deaths from infectious diseases, it is essential that policymakers do not become complacent. These gains will be quickly reversed without sustained health investments. Scaled-up investments will be needed to tackle the emerging non-communicable disease (NCD) burden and to achieve universal health coverage (UHC).
This report presents compelling evidence of the value of scaling-up health investments, addressing three key questions:
- What is the economic rationale for investing in health?
- What is the best way to finance health?
- Which interventions should be prioritised?
The report insights are organised around answers to the above three key questions:
- Investing in health is an investment in economic prosperity through multiple pathways:
- Education – well-nourished children are more likely to go to school and to further their education, which is linked to higher earnings in adulthood.
- Productivity – healthy people work harder and better, and are less likely to take days off.
- Investment – people are more likely to save money when they expect to live longer and businesses are more likely to invest in countries with healthier populations. • Resources – access to natural resources is opened up when endemic diseases such as malaria are tackled.
- Demographics – when mortality rates fall, women have fewer children, which temporarily increases the ratio of working-age people to their dependents.
- Without public financing there will be individuals who cannot afford the care they need, resulting in sickness, and potential mortality and financial ruin. This is a devastating choice that pushes 150 million people into poverty every year.
- Investing in interventions that are targeted to local needs is the fastest and most effective way to reduce mortality. Dramatic health improvements are possible through scaling-up best buys, even when social and economic conditions are poor. These interventions provide high levels of health and financial protection with impressive economic returns.
READ FULL REPORT: Investing in Health
Forum Chair: Prof. Dean Jamison, Professor Emeritus of Global Health, University of California, San Francisco
Dean Jamison is Professor Emeritus of Global Health at the University of California, San Francisco. In 2006-2008 he served as the T. & G. Angelopoulos Visiting Professor of Public Health and International Development in the Harvard Kennedy School and the Harvard School of Public Health. Previously, Dean had been at University of California, Los Angeles (1988-2006) and at the World Bank (1976-1988). His last position at the World Bank was Director, World Development Report Office and lead author for the Bank’s 1993 World Development Report, Investing in Health. His publications are in the areas of economic theory, public health and education.
Jamison studied at Stanford (M.S., Engineering Science) and at Harvard (Ph.D., Economics, under K.J. Arrow). In 1994 he was elected to membership in the National Academy of Medicine. Jamison was recently co-first author with Lawrence Summers of ‘Global Health 2035’, the report of the Lancet Commission on Investing in Health (The Lancet, December 2013). His publications are in the areas of economic theory, public health and education.