[Investing in health: the economic case. Report of the WISH Investing in Health Forum 2016].


Journal Article

Developing country governments and aid agencies face difficult decisions on how best to allocate their finite resources. Investments in many different sectors -including education, water and sanitation, transportation, and health- can all reap social and economic benefits. This report focuses specifically on the health sector. It presents compelling evidence of the value of scaling-up health investments. The economic case for increasing these investments in health has never been stronger. Having made progress in reducing maternal and child mortality, and deaths from infectious diseases, it is essential that policymakers do not become complacent. These gains will be quickly reversed without sustained health investments. Scaled-up investments will be needed to tackle the emerging non-communicable disease (NCD) burden and to achieve universal health coverage (UHC). The value of investment in health far beyond its performance is reflected in economic prosperity through gross domestic product (GDP). People put a high monetary value on the additional years of life that health investments can bring -an inherent value to being alive for longer, unrelated to productivity. Policymakers need to do more to ensure that spending on health reflects people's priorities. To make sure services are accessible to all, governments have a clear role to play in financing health. Without public financing, there will be some who cannot afford the care they need, and they will be forced to choose sickness -perhaps even death- and financial ruin; a devastating choice that already pushes 150 million people into poverty every year. In low-income countries (LICs) and middle-income countries (MICs), public financing should be used to achieve universal coverage with a package of highly cost-effective interventions ('best buys'). Governments failing to protect the health and wealth of their people in this way will be unable to reap the benefits of long-term economic prosperity and growth. Public financing has the benefit of being more efficient and better at controlling costs than private financing and is the only sustainable way to reach UHC. In addition, people put a high economic value on the protection against financial risk that public financing provides. This report addresses three key questions: 1) What is the economic rationale for investing in health?; 2) what is the best way to finance health?, and 3) which interventions should be prioritized?

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Yamey, G; Beyeler, N; Wadge, H; Jamison, D

Published Date

  • May 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 59 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 321 - 342

PubMed ID

  • 28902320

Pubmed Central ID

  • 28902320

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1606-7916

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0036-3634

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.21149/8675


  • spa