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Financial Leaders Must Recognize Correlation Between Health, Strong Economy

“Washington, D.C., is usually under the watchful eye of policy wonks and journalists. This weekend, however, the eyes of millions of children will be on D.C. as their fates are determined by the world’s financial leaders, descending on Washington for the Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank,” Ray Chambers, U.N. special envoy for health financing, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “Over the past few years, a debate has emerged around where developing countries should invest their resources, including the funding they receive from entities like the World Bank, as well as loans from other countries,” he notes, adding, “That discussion will continue to play out this week as Africa’s Finance and Health Ministers come together to talk about investing in health, and understanding what the issues have been that have prevented further progress.”

“The economists who put the forum together looked at the tremendous economic and health improvements in Asia, and tried to see if there might be some applicability to Africa,” Chambers continues, and writes, “Looking at China, Malaysia, South Korea, and Thailand revealed that improvements in health, for instance the decline in infant mortality, came before the strong uptake in the economy.” He states, “The humanitarian reason for keeping the world from preventable and treatable diseases should be enough, but the economic reasons should help guide our investment decisions as well. Finance ministers must recognize the symbiotic relationship between health and economic development: investment in health is investment in wealth.” He concludes, “With the world’s eyes on Washington this week, let’s encourage the financial leaders to see that healthy people are at the heart of healthy growth” (4/17).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.