UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Landmark report charts route for economies to deliver health for all

24 May 2023

'Health for All: Transforming economies to deliver what matters' has been launched at the Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

Professor Mazzucato and Dr Tedros hold up copies of the report

The WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All, chaired by Professor Mariana Mazzucato, Director of UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, has delivered its final report - Health for All: Transforming economies to deliver what matters - outlining a bold new path to reorient economies to deliver what matters - health for all. The council was made up of an all-female group of leading economists and practitioners. 

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who created the council in November 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, delivered keynote remarks at the launch event, which was held at the seventy-sixth World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. 

“This comprehensive report reflects the remarkable efforts of ten leading economists, public health, finance and development professionals over the past two years” Dr Tedros said. “It aims to challenge persisting perceptions, debunk old myths, and pave the way for a world where the health of people and the planet takes precedence.” 

Professor Mazzucato was joined by three fellow council members: Ilona Kickbusch, Jayati Ghosh, and Senait Fisseha


In her opening remarks, Brazil’s Health Minister Nísia Trindade Lima committed to carrying the report’s 13 recommendations forward under the Brazilian Government’s G20 presidency in 2024, with a particular focus on shaping the agenda of the annual G20 Joint Finance and Health Ministers’ Meeting. 

The council has spent the last two years rethinking the economy from a health for all perspective, and pushing forcefully the principle that human and planetary health must be at the heart of how we design our social, health and economic systems and policies. At the launch event, Professor Mazzucato was joined by three fellow council members, including Jayati Ghosh, Senait Fisseha, and Ilona Kickbusch

“Over the past two years, the WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All has worked to craft a new economic narrative – one that transforms financing for health from an expenditure to an investment,” says Professor Mazzucato. “We have examined the changes needed – including to the structure of patents, public-private partnerships, and budgets – to design an economy that delivers health for all. In our final report, we call for new economic policy that is not about market fixing but about proactively and collaboratively shaping markets that prioritise human and planetary health.”
“Two years ago, I asked a team of the world’s leading economists and public health experts – all women – to create a paradigm shift. Now, instead of health for all being seen as the servant of economic growth, we have a roadmap for structuring economic activity in a way that will allow us to reach the goal of seeing all people with access to essential health services faster with better results,” says Dr Tedros.

The final report offers 13 bold recommendations

The report provides a new framework built on four pillars – value, finance, innovation, and capacity – and has developed 13 bold recommendations drawing from the Council’s previous work:

  • Valuing health for all: We need to value and measure the things that truly matter - human and planetary flourishing - rather than pursuing economic growth and GDP maximisation regardless of the consequences. To achieve health for all, governments must rethink value and reshape and redirect the economy based on social and planetary well-being, guided by new metrics.
  • Financing health for all: A fundamental overhaul of national and international systems for financing health is needed, so that spending on health is treated as a long-term investment. Delivering Health for All will require both more money, and higher quality financing.
  • Innovating towards health for all: Innovation requires collective intelligence—it is never the fruit of just one company or government agency. But unless innovation is governed for the common good, many people remain excluded from its benefits. A new end-to-end health innovation ecosystem that prioritises the common good is needed.
  • State capacity to deliver health for all: As the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear, the quality and capacity of government matters. Effective governments are not the smallest, but those that are well-designed and properly resourced, both financially and in terms of their people and infrastructure. Re-investing in government capacity is crucial to delivering Health for All.

 The WHO called on policymakers, civil society, and members of the health and economics communities to give full consideration to the recommendations and use them as a compass to develop new economic policies and structures that can move us along the road to making health for all a reality.  

For more information

Health for All: Transforming economies to deliver what matters: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/public-purpose/publications/2022/may/health-all-transforming-economies-deliver-what-matters

WHO Council on the Economics of Health For All: https://www.who.int/groups/who-council-on-the-economics-of-health-for-all 

Op-ed from Professor Mazzucato for the British Medical Journal: https://www.bmj.com/content/381/bmj.p1175 

IIPP’s health innovation work: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/public-purpose/health-innovation