Global Health And Economy


Economy and health are intertwined and entangled to each other. As the phrase goes “health is wealth”, the economy of and individual as well as that of a nation and of the whole world itself is to a large extent dependent on health. And many a times political and economic concerns have often guided global health interventions and investment on health generally depends on political will. For example the control of yellow fever, was directly related to completion of Panama Canal, because of economic burden of yellow fever, the disease was tried to control (if the Panama Canal was not constructed yellow fever control might have taken much longer time if ever tried to control).

Some economists and demographers argue that economic development is the key to improving the health status of a nation or a region, but many others argue that that ill health is the main barrier to economic development in poor countries. May be the view which combines both these arguments is the correct view and improvement of health status as well as economic development are equally important. But investment in health care, especially by controlling communicable diseases in poor countries can lead to increased productivity and consequently economic development. But many countries and economists are unable to find the necessary resources to start the predicted “virtuous cycle”.

International financial institutions like the World Bank and the IMF (International Monetary Fund), have counseled limited investments and the capping of social expenditures in health and education (the 2 core sectors which are non profit for Governments). The argument by these international financial institutions was that a balanced budget with a “friendly investment climate” that allows privatization, deregulation, and decreased trade barriers, devalued currencies etc. would favor economic development and thus improve health outcomes. But the World Health Organization (WHO) advises the Governments to provide approximately 5% of total GDP for health sector, although unfortunately most of the developing countries allot less than half of that recommended by World Health Organization and consequently have poor health as well as poorer economy. Even whatever is allocated for health sector is also spent mainly in the cities where people can afford to pay and reaches negligible amount in the rural areas where health expenditure by Governments should ideally reach adequately.

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