News Archive

posted 01/07/03

India Launches Commission on Macroeconomics and Health (CMH)--Based on Analysis Showing That Investment in Health Translates to Economic Development
Columbia's President Bollinger and Earth Institute Director and CMH Chair Jeffrey Sachs to speak at the January 9 launch in New Delhi, India

Based on a report issued in 2001 by the World Health Organization's (WHO) Commission on Macroeconomics and Health (chaired by economist Jeffrey Sachs), the government of India is officially forming a special Indian Commission on Macroeconomics and Health to target health sector priorities in order to spur economic development.

India is the world's second most populated country and faces major health and economic challenges. The CMH estimates that the cost needed to provide essential health interventions in developing countries such as India is approximately $30 to $40 per person per year. Current health spending in India is significantly below that threshold, and there is a clear need for scaling up investments in health. India's new Commission will work with the WHO and Columbia University's Earth Institute and Mailman School of Public Health new Center for Global Health and Economic Development (CGHED) to strategize on ways to mobilize increased health care investments in an effective manner. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, and Allan Rosenfield, Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health, formed the CGHED in order to investigate and identify ways to scale up health efforts in developing countries.

India's Minister of Health and Minister of Finance will co-chair the new Commission, which will be supported by a generous grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, and Dean Allan Rosenfield are visiting India to support the launch and to hold meetings with the President and Prime Minister of India. They are accompanied by Earth Institute project leaders Dr. Nirupam Bajpai and Dr. Josh Ruxin.

"The Earth Institute demonstrates Columbia's fervent commitment to address this century's most encompassing global challenge: the sustainable development of the planet," says Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia University. "Jeffrey Sachs provides extraordinary leadership in fostering economic growth in developing nations, which hinges on promoting human health, spurring innovation and preserving a sustainable environment."

The Commission on Macroeconomics and Health report, with Jeff Sachs as Chair, is titled Investing in Health for Economic Development. It finds that "extending the coverage of crucial health services to the world's poor could save millions of lives each year, reduce poverty, spur economic development, and promote global security. Improvements in health would translate into higher incomes, higher economic growth, and reduced population growth." (The report is available in its entirety at http://www.cmhealth.org).

"If all wealthy countries contribute an extra one-tenth of 1% of their economies, or a total of $27 billion a year to health care spending in developing countries by 2007, in conjunction with increased spending by poor nations themselves, the Report shows that these countries would be able to avert 8 million deaths per year and by the following decade add more than $300 billion per year of gross national income," said Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute and Chair of the CMH.

The CGHED is partnering with the WHO in an initiative called MacroHealth, which assists developing countries to act on the recommendations of the CMH. The CGHED will work with up to 18 countries during the next two years. Dr. Ruxin leads the MacroHealth initiative at the CGHED and his team has already participated in activities in Ethiopia, Ghana, and China. In partnership with WHO staff, the CGHED seeks to engage ministries of finance and health in strategic plans to secure long-term national investments in critically needed health care initiatives.

"As we build the new Center for Global Health and Economic Development," stated Allan Rosenfield, MD, Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health, "Jeffrey Sachs and I look forward to focusing on a broad range of health issues that affect resource-poor countries, such as HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality, malaria, and tuberculosis."

The Earth Institute at Columbia University is the world's leading academic center for the integrated study of Earth, its environment, and society. The Earth Institute builds upon excellence in the core disciplines — earth sciences, biological sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences and health sciences — and stresses cross-disciplinary approaches to complex problems. Through its research, training and global partnerships, it mobilizes science and technology to advance sustainable development, while placing special emphasis on the needs of the world's poor.

Mailman School of Public Health
The only accredited school of public health in New York City, and among the first in the nation, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health provides instruction and research opportunities to more than 800 graduate students in pursuit of masters and doctoral degrees. Its students and over 200 multi-disciplinary faculty engage in research and service in the city, nation, and around the world, concentrating on biostatistics, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health policy and management, population and family health, and sociomedical sciences. For more information, visit www.mailman.hs.columbia.edu.

The Center for Global Health and Economic Development
The Center for Global Health and Economic Development creates an umbrella for numerous public health initiatives at The Mailman School of Public Health and the Earth Institute to partner with the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and private donors. For more information, visit www.earth.columbia.edu/about/aboutghed.html

KEY:

CMN - Commission on Macroeconomics and Health

WHO - World Health Organization

CGHED - Center for Global Health and Economic Development