Sixty-fifth session of the World Health Assembly Geneva 23 May 2012

Address by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre to 65th World Health Assembly.

“Now, after almost seven years as Foreign Minister, I am more convinced than ever that improving health is crucial for achieving growth, development, equity and stability throughout the whole world…”

Excerpt:

Ladies and gentlemen,

From what I have said so far, it might seem that a partnership between health and foreign policy will only be a defensive one – a partnership to face serious threats. Yes, there is a lot that needs to be defended. But the interplay between health, economic and foreign policy also offers real opportunities for economic and social progress.

In 1993 the World Bank published its paradigm-changing World Development Report, “Investing in Health”. That report, together with subsequent findings included in the 2001 report of WHO’s Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, provided strong evidence for the link between improved health and increased productivity.

Over the last 20 years, we have built up an impressive body of evidence about the role of health as a driver of economic growth and social development.

Today we know beyond doubt that – together with investments in education – wise investments in health provide impressive returns in the form of increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, reduced turnover of staff and greater ability to attract investment.

Inspired by the progress they have achieved in controlling epidemics, immunizing children and reducing mortality through effective and affordable treatment regimes, several middle-income countries have significantly boosted their health spending in recent years.

In fact, a telling illustration of emerging states is how they have succeeded in increasing their public health budgets – look to India, China, Brazil and South Africa, to mention just the largest countries. And – yes, a number of the poorest countries have also improved the health of their people to a remarkable extent in relation to their growth rates and aid levels.

These achievements do not come as coincidences. There is no inexorable link between growth and improved health and welfare. It is politics that drives history, not inevitable laws of economics.

See full speech here: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/2012/wha65/jonas_gahr_store/en/index.html

Author: protectiongateway

Human Protection Hub

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