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Washington, April 22, 2014-- Former Director of the Pan American Health Organization Sir George A.O. Alleyne led a lively discussion on the value of investing in health today when he shared the findings of the recent Lancet Commission report "Global health 2035: a world converging within a generation."

The report says investment will facilitate dramatic gains in global health by 2035. It contains four key messages, each accompanied by opportunities for action by national governments of low- and middle-income countries and by the international community:

  • There is an enormous payoff from investing in health
  • A "grand convergence" in health is achievable within our lifetime
  • Fiscal policies are a powerful and underused lever for curbing of noncommunicable diseases and injuries
  • Progressive universalism, a pathway to universal health coverage, is an efficient way to achieve health and financial protection

Dr. Alleyne noted that the 1993 World Development Report Investing in Health, considered controversial at the time, was the World Bank's first major health report to target finance ministers. It proposed that health should be considered as an investment necessary to ensure long-term sustainable socioeconomic development.

"Good reasons exist to be optimistic about seeing the global health landscape utterly transformed . . . within our lifetimes."

The new Lancet Commission report looks at how far the world has come in 20 years and what has changed. The Commission was chaired by Lawrence Summers and Dean Jamison, chief architects of the 1993 report, and includes Dr. Alleyne and other leading public health, economic, and financial thinkers.

Its members focused their work on how low- and middle-income countries and their development partners should target joint future investments in health to tackle the complex array of challenges being faced. These include infectious diseases, noncommunicable diseases, and injuries, as well as emerging threats such as antimicrobial resistance, new pandemics, and global climate change.

Dr. Alleyne emphasized the pivotal role of governments in providing healthy, enabling environments so that individuals can make the "right" health choices, while at the same time he noted that "we have underplayed the role of civil society and underestimated the role of the private sector" in our quest to promote better health possibilities for all.

PAHO Director Dr. Carissa F. Etienne concluded the discussion by stressing that universal health coverage will only be made possible when we reach all of society's underserved and under-protected. She said she was "encouraged by the fact that we all speak the same language. We all agree on health as a human right; the need for health security, solidarity, and equity; and the importance of civil society, intersectoral cooperation, and the social determinants of health."

To see The Lancet Commission report: "Global Health 2035: a world converging within a generation"

To see Sir George A. O. Alleyne's presentation select this link.