Director-General Dr Tedros,
Dear Participants, Friends,
I wish to congratulate the World Health Organization and Director General Tedros. The Council on Economics of Health for All was a missing piece and very much needed.
As the Patron of the Council, I would like to thank Professor Mazzucato and the members of the Council for your dedication, inspiration and vision. The Council works at the intersection of economics and health.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how health and economy are linked to each other. The dramatic consequences of the pandemic for individual households as well as economies have been profound. Many consequences are not even known yet.
We now understand that health budgets are not only an expense. Health budgets are much more an investment – an investment that makes societies and economies stronger, more resilient and more equal.
We need to rethink our policies, globally and locally. The question is how to make us collectively and as individual societies better prepared. How to become more resilient for future crises and threats.
We need to act on several tracks simultaneously:
- We need to reform the global preparedness and response mechanisms.
- We need to make the World Health Organization stronger.
- We need to invest in national capacities and resilience.
- We need to ensure equitable access to essential countermeasures.
We must work on several tracks in order to make a real leap forward. We need to improve what is already in place. But we also need new approaches. These include an international instrument and a new funding tool to support capacities for health security at national, regional and global levels. Our view must be holistic on what needs to be done.
A broader societal approach is called for. A good society and a well functioning economy needs investment in research, social protection, education and health systems.
Investing in gender equality and women’s economic empowerment is very important. We need prevention and more health and wellbeing. The Whole-of-Government and Whole-of-Society approach is a way to get there. Together, these investments drive progress and rebuild better and resilient societies for all.
In addition, these investments contribute to global public goods for health and wellbeing. I believe this is the way to build societies based on trust. Without trust, a society is not resilient. With trust, our democracies are stronger. This is what we have learned in Finland through our history.
Finland has consistently promoted collaboration across sectors and Health in All policies.
We know this is not enough in the face of important transformations going on, due to climate change, demography, urbanization, or new technologies. These changes touch upon many sectors. We need to see the links between economy, health, environment and wellbeing.
This is what the Economy of Wellbeing is all about.
The pandemic has had a big impact on health, economies and societies around the world.
This impact should not have come as a surprise.
For years, experts and the World Health Organization have been warning us about the need to better prepare for a large scale health emergency. They have warned about the gaps in national capacities. We have failed to fully understand the importance of the link between human- animal- and the environment and health security and wellbeing.
Furthermore, in many countries choices in politics and the economy have led to deeper inequalities as well as to underinvestment in health and social protection. It is clear that people in difficult situations have been hit harder by the Covid-19-pandemic. Inequitable access to vaccines is worsening the mistrust in the global political environment.
At the same time, the pandemic has shown that, with the right approach, it is possible to protect the vulnerable, to address inequities as well as to safeguard both health and the economy. Taking the lessons learned from those who have succeeded better can help to guide us forward.
We need to find the courage to make bold changes before we are swept away by new challenges.