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European ministers meet to discuss health-wealth link

24 June, 2008  

This week (25-27 June), ministers of health, international experts, and over 500 delegates from the 53 countries of the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region will meet in Tallinn, Estonia at the WHO European Ministerial Conference on Health Systems: “Health Systems, Health and Wealth”.

They will examine the existing evidence on the relationship between health and wealth, in the hope to establish a new paradigm for health systems.
Three reports on how ill health can be an economic burden and how well-run health systems can contribute to wealthier societies will be discussed at the Tallinn Conference: The economic costs of ill health in the European Region; Performance measurement for health system improvement: experiences, challenges and prospects; and Health systems, health and wealth: assessing the case for investing in health systems.

These reports are available on the conference website:

“Health is a robust predictor of economic growth owing to increased savings, investment in human capital, labour-market participation, productivity growth and so on, which makes a strong case for investing in health systems,” says Dr Marc Danzon, WHO Regional Director for Europe.

“However, if health ministers are to win the argument on investment they need to demonstrate that the health system is really using the resources it is given effectively and efficiently. Governments have to face difficult choices when deciding how to allocate resources.

“Yet they often seem willing to invest in some elements of their national physical and human infrastructure, for example in transport systems and education, but less willing to invest in their most important resource, the health of their people,” he adds.

WHO European Ministerial Conference on Health Systems