Leading UCL economist Professor Mariana Mazzucato (UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose) will chair a new World Health Organisation (WHO) Council on the Economics of Health for All.
The council, announced by Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, will focus on the links between investments in health and achieving economic growth that is more sustainable, inclusive and innovation-led.
Comprised of top economists and health experts, it aims to mobilise investment in local and global health systems for long-term gain, rather than short-term wins, helping to address inequalities. The goal is healthier populations and economies that are more sustainable and inclusive.
Professor Mazzucato said: "The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the consequences of chronic under-investment in health on the global economy and on the lives and livelihoods of billions worldwide, showing that health cannot be separated from the economy and the economy cannot be separated from health. U nprecedented investment is needed to transform our health systems, and the innovation that will drive that, which is fundamental to economic well-being."
Dr Tedros and Professor Mazzucato will work together to help place the Health for All agenda at the core of how economic growth is understood - at the local and global level.
Professor Mazzucato said: "We are living through multiple crises: economic, climate and health related. If we continue to patch up the system each time we will always be one step behind. We need a new narrative. I am thrilled to work closely with Dr Tedros on a proactive Health for All economic agenda, to shape our economies so they truly have wellbeing and inclusion at the centre of how we create value, measure it and distribute it."
Dr Tedros said: "We must use the current state of emergency to rethink how value in health and well - being is measured, produced, and distributed across the economy.
"I believe the time has come for a new narrative grounded in four fundamental truths: that health is a human right; that health and the economy are interdependent; that health is critical to productivity, resilience and stability in economies worldwide; and that we can direct investments in health to achieve global cooperation."
The Council is expected to hold its first virtual session in the coming weeks, and will discuss its work plan and mode of operation. It will regularly provide statements on occasion of leader’s meetings, provide ideas for implementing change, and help inform the piloting of local initiatives at country level. At the same time it aims to change the narrative to ensure that the post-Covid economy is better for global health than the one that led to the pandemic in the first place.