UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Spanish translation of the final report of the WHO Council launched with Spanish Ministry of Health

1 July 2024

IIPP Director, Professor Mariana Mazzucato, spoke alongside Spain’s Minister of Health, Mónica Garcia, at the launch of the Spanish translation of the final report of the World Health Organization (WHO) Council on the Economics of Health for All on 24 June, 2024.

WHO  Health for all

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the interdependence of health and economic systems; however, despite the heavy human and economic toll of the pandemic, flawed economic assumptions that see health and economic outcomes as delinked persist. The WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All, chaired by Professor Mariana Mazzucato, began its work at the height of the pandemic and posed a radically new question: Instead of health serving the economy, what would it mean for the economy to serve health? The Council’s final report, released in May 2023, reimagined the relationship between economics and health across four interrelated pillars – value, finance, innovation, and capacity – and made 13 specific recommendations.

Prof. Mazzucato and Spain’s Minister of Health, Mónica Garcia, on stage at the launch of the Spanish translation of the final report of the WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All

From Global Resolution to National Implementation

At this year’s World Health Assembly, governments adopted the Resolution on the Economics of Health for All which was based on the Council’s report. It gives the WHO and member states a mandate to implement the Council’s approach. Spain is one of several countries working to adopt these ideas.

The Spanish translation of the Council’s report was launched on 24 June at the Ministry of Health in Madrid. At this event, Professor Mariana Mazzucato spoke alongside Spain’s Minister for Health, Mónica García, about what implementation might look like in Spain. This launch event will be followed by a webinar with the Pan American Health Organization later in 2024 to explore implications for other Spanish-speaking countries. It follows the launch of the Portuguese translation of the report in Brazil last year. Recognizing its global relevance, the report is being translated into multiple languages, with the Executive Summary now available in six languages, and the full report in three languages.

As Professor Mazzucato explained in her keynote remarks, transforming economies to prioritise the goal of Health for All must start with a reconceptualization of how health is valued in the economy. This means moving beyond simply maximizing GDP regardless of the consequences towards steering economies with a dashboard of metrics that measures what matters to societies.

Prof. Mazzucato delivers a keynote address at Spain’s Ministry of Health at the launch the Spanish translation of the final report of the WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All.

Professor Mazzucato recalled the painful consequences of misguided austerity policies in the wake of the global financial crisis, which has had lasting impacts on Spain’s health system. She explained that instead of creating a false dichotomy, the innovation and welfare states can be brought together. The return of industrial policy globally provides an important opportunity for doing so. Professor Mazzucato discussed the importance of aligning industrial strategy with bold societal missions, emphasizing that this approach can catalyze cross-sectoral innovation and investment, leading to dynamic spillovers and multiplier effects. Notably, Spain has received €163bn for its Recovery and Resilience investments through the EU. Maximising the public value of this public finance will require clear outcomes-orientation in how it is designed. 

Professor Mazzucato highlighted that while mission-oriented policies are gaining popularity worldwide, implementation often remains siloed within single ministries. A whole-of-government approach is key to achieving the benefits of mission-oriented industrial strategy. “Recalibrating power structures across government, especially how the finance ministry relates to others, is essential for successful mission-oriented government,” Professor Mazzucato explained.

Spain’s Commitment to Health for All

This launch event highlighted what the Council’s report means in the context of Spain – including for designing public-private partnerships that prioritize access to and affordability of health products, measuring economic progress through a dashboard of indicators that includes health and wellbeing, and aligning industrial strategy with health goals.

Minister García emphasized the importance of the WHO Council report as a road map for placing the goal of health for all at the centre of government decision-making, especially for economic policy. She spoke about policies and plans in Spain across the four pillars of value, finance, innovation and capacity that aim to put the economy at the service of health. This includes measuring and valuing health across sectors, as well as placing the health needs of the population at the centre of biomedical innovation.

The Minister also highlighted how Spain is linking policy for both human and planetary health, for example through its Health and Climate Change Observatory and plans to reduce emissions from the healthcare system to zero by 2050.

Implications for health and economic policy in Spain

Following the launch event, Professor Mazzucato and Minister Garcia held a bilateral meeting to discuss the implications of the Council’s recommendations for Spain’s health-economic policy.

Prof. Mazzucato and Spain’s Minister of Health, Mónica Garcia, met to discuss next steps for Spain's implementation of the recommendations in the final report of the WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All

Amongst other topics, they discussed how the concept of the Entrepreneurial State is currently being taken forward by the government, including through Spain's Entrepreneurial Nation Strategy, and how it is informing the country’s health and industrial policies to advance the goal of health for all. They also discussed opportunities for sharing insights across countries in the context of the implementation of the WHO Resolution of the Economics of Health for All and potential next steps for advancing concrete measures aligned with the Council’s work in Spain.

Prof. Mazzucato meets with Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to discuss the WHO Council's final report

During her trip, Professor Mazzucato also met with Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, to discuss the government’s Entrepreneurial Nation Strategy. The meeting focused on the importance of progressive governments strengthening their industrial policies. Prime Minister Sánchez emphasised that Spain has demonstrated that economic growth and social progress are not incompatible. Professor Mazzucato shared insights from her work with other governments on the capabilities, tools and institutions needed to advance mission-oriented industrial strategy.

Global Impact and Next Steps

The launch of the WHO Council’s report in Spanish is part of a broader effort to support bold reforms in countries worldwide. IIPP will continue working with the WHO to support the implementation of the Council’s recommendations and to help share lessons between countries globally that are seeking to align their economies with the goal of health for all.

Professor Mazzucato was accompanied in these meetings by Dr. Fabian Moser, an MPA student at IIPP.