UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


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

6 May 2021

Professor Mariana Mazzucato will Chair the new WHO Council made up of eleven leading figures in economics, health and development. The Council will focus on strategies to build healthy societies that are just, inclusive, equitable and sustainable.

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The World Health Organization is convening eleven 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 and WHO on addressing interrelated health and economic challenges and map out a way forward that supports communities and countries to build healthy societies. To do so, the Council, chaired by UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) Founding Director Mariana Mazzucato, will provide recommendations for a new approach to shape the economy that supports health for all as an overall goal.

Dr Tedros, WHO Director General, said:

I am delighted that WHO is convening this talented and driven group of global experts as the WHO Council on Economics of Health For All, which is chaired by the distinguished economist Professor Mariana Mazzucato. 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.

In addition to Professor Mariana Mazzucato, as Chair, the inaugural members of the council are Professor Senait Fisseha, 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. When asked why all members are women, both Professor Mazzucato and Dr.Tedros answered, "Why not?!"

Professor Mariana Mazzucato, Founding Director at UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, said:

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. 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 Council is holding its inaugural meeting today (6 May), which 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.”

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. 

Read more about IIPP's work on health innovation here

Read the WHO press release here

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