UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Leading economists and health experts call for radical economic redirection to put health at centre

26 October 2021

Chaired by UCL IIPP’s Founding Director Professor Mariana Mazzucato, the WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All calls for a different approach to financing health as part of latest recommendations.

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Join the press conference at 1pm BST (Tues 26 Oct)

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus the stark reality of the gross and growing inequities in access to health care and health products: for every 100 people in high-income countries, 133 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, while in low-income countries, only 4 doses per 100 people have been administered. 

Global governance is stuck in the same old economic paradigm that cannot adapt finance structures to fast-moving conditions nor move beyond outdated thinking on economic development. This stands in the way of Health For All – the equitable and sustainable provision of universal human health and wellbeing. 

As the G20 Summit in Rome approaches, when heads of state come together on 30 and 31 October, there is a window of opportunity to radically reorient the status quo paradigm of “health for the economy” to a new one of “the economy for Health For All”. The critical challenge is both to increase the magnitude of the finance available for health and to govern it in a more directed and effective manner.  

WHO Council on the Economics of Health For All's latest recommendations:

The WHO Council on the Economics of Health For All’s new policy brief calls for more finance and better finance. Financing Health for All: Increase, transform and redirect sets out the way forward through three pathways to action:  

  1. Creating fiscal space by easing artificial constraints imposed by outdated economic assumptions, and reversing the harmful effects of reforms that lead to big health cuts, to significantly increase spending and investments towards Health For All; 

  2. Directing investments to ensure Health for All becomes the central purpose of economic activities, and enhance public leadership and dynamic state capabilities to create a conducive regulatory, tax, industrial policy and investment environment;  

  3. Governing public and private finance by regulating the functioning and financing of private health markets through measures that crowd in and redirect private finance towards improving health outcomes equitably across the globe. 


The Council demands now – more than ever – clear, ambitious goals to put health at the center of economic development; to mobilize and focus investments on health rather than financial return; and to make financing for health a long-term investment rather than short-term cost. This means realigning finance from all sectors and sources through conditionalities that incentivize symbiotic gains in the public interest, and redesigning policies around the mission of achieving Health for All. 

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

“While health systems are under-resourced, more finance is not the only solution. The work of the Council stresses the need to reform and redirect finance in radical ways so that the objective of Health For All is designed into the financial structures, the conditionalities and the partnerships between business and the state.”

Dr Tedros, WHO Director General, said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that the financing of health systems needs to change radically to protect and promote the health of all people. The latest report by the Council on the Economics of Health For All makes a clear and compelling argument for the need for sustained financing to be directed to achieving health for all people, and for investments to be understood as long-term gains for national and global development."

The WHO Council on the Economics of Health For All was established in November 2020 by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The Council’s core mission is to rethink how value in health and wellbeing is measured, produced, and distributed across the economy. It recommends a new way to shape the economy with the objective of building healthy societies that are just, inclusive, equitable, and sustainable.  

Comprised of ten of the world’s leading economists and health experts, the Council is focused on rethinking measurement of economic development, financing, capacity, and innovation with the aim of achieving Health for All. Policy briefs in each of these areas, and a comprehensive final report to be produced in 2023, will be used to build momentum amongst key decision makers  towards changing the structure of economic activity to advance Health For All. 

The members of the Council are Professor Mariana Mazzucato (Chair), Professor Senait Fisseha, Professor Jayati Ghosh, Vanessa Huang, Professor Stephanie Kelton, Professor Ilona Kickbusch, Zelia Maria Profeta da Luz, Kate Raworth, Dr Vera Songwe and Dame Marilyn Waring.

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