Investments in health key to reducing poverty, WHO chief says

Investments in health key to reducing poverty, WHO chief says

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The head of the United Nations health agency today called for increased investment in health as a keystone of efforts to improve the social and economic conditions of the world’s poor.

“To reduce poverty, we have to invest in health,” Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), told health experts and government representatives at a round table discussion on Health and Human Resources Development in New York today. She underscored that a healthy population is both a means and an end to economic development.

The discussion was organized by the President of the UN Economic and Social Council, Ivan Simonovic of Croatia, in advance of the Council’s high-level segment to be held in New York in July.

Among other participants of the panel, Dr. Peter Piot, the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), called for cross-sectoral approaches to major health concerns. If the fight against AIDS were left to the health sector alone, it would be “doomed to failure,” he warned. AIDS, like many other important health concerns, must be tackled in many different ways – including through education, through public-private partnerships, and by addressing gender inequalities.

Calls were also made for increased donors contributions to improve health services in the world’s poorest countries, and for sensible management of health services in those countries.