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Health for All: WHO

  • 25 May 2023
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: Health for All, WHO, Climate Change, Covid-19, World Health Assembly, Paris Agreement, Universal Health Coverage.

For Mains: Health for All: Transforming economies to deliver what matters.

Why in News?

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) in its 76th World Health Assembly (WHA) has released a report titled- “Health for All: Transforming economies to deliver what matters”, recommending a roadmap to link health with sustainable growth.

  • The 76th WHA was held in Geneva, Switzerland and the theme was - “WHO at 75: Saving Lives, Driving Health for All”.
  • The report was launched by the WHO Council on the Economics of Health (WCEH) for All, which was formed in November 2020 in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Note: WCEH for All was established to provide new economic thinking — reassessing how health and well-being are valued, produced and distributed across the economy.

What are the Highlights of the Report?

  • Covid-19 a Global Failure:
    • The Covid-19 pandemic was a preventable disaster resulting from a global failure to prioritize the well-being of humanity. Despite clear warnings, the importance of proactive measures to safeguard against pandemics was neglected causing significant crises worldwide.
      • In 2020 alone almost 100 million were pushed into poverty.
      • Even the scientifically remarkable achievement of rapidly developing an effective vaccine against Covid-19 failed to prioritize the common good.
    • Covid-19 exposed deep-seated inequities, emphasizing the need to reshape the economy for Health for All.
  • Shortage of Health Workers:
    • There remains a huge shortage of health workers globally and especially in low-income countries.
      • Health workers, 70% of whom are women, unduly suffered on the frontline in the treatment of Covid-19 for lack of decent protective equipment and support.
    • While Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean are the regions most in need, many countries struggle with constraints on their ability to invest in staff.
  • Climate Change:
    • Given the disastrous consequences Climate Change is already having on health.
      • The Paris Agreement, aimed at combating climate change, is considered a crucial public health agreement. However, the goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C by 2050 may be surpassed within this decade.
    • Worldwide, air pollution from burning fossil fuels is responsible for a global total of 10.2million premature deaths, roughly the population of Bangkok or Hyderabad.
      • Climate change may cause 83 million excess deaths by the end of the century due to rising temperatures caused by Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
  • Health Expenditure:
    • Short-term austerity measures threaten health expenditure, undermining long-term benefits and stability in healthcare provision.
    • Insufficient long-term investments lead to increased reliance on aid and Out-of-Pocket Payments, hindering Universal Health Coverage.
  • Health as a Human Right:
    • At least 140 countries recognize health as a human right somewhere in their constitution but only four countries mention how to finance it.
      • 52 of these countries do little in practicing health as a human right.

What are the Recommendations?

  • Valuing Health for All:
    • Valuing the Essential: Treat health and wellbeing, health workers and health systems as a long-term investment, not a short-term cost.
    • Human Rights: Use legal and financial commitments to enforce health as a human right.
    • Planetary Health: Restore and protect the environment by upholding international commitments to a regenerative economy which links the planet and people.
    • Dashboard for Healthy Economy: Use a range of metrics that track progress across core societal values, above and beyond the narrow, static measure of GDP.
  • Financing Health for All:
    • Long term Finance: Adopt a comprehensive, stable approach to funding Health for All.
    • Quality of Finance: Redraw the international architecture of finance to fund health equitably and proactively, including an effective and inclusive crisis response.
    • Funding and Governance: Ensure WHO is properly funded and governed to play its key global coordinating role in Health for All.
  • Innovating for Health for All:
    • Collective Intelligence: Build symbiotic public-private alliances to maximize public value, sharing both risk and rewards.
    • Common Good: Design knowledge governance, including intellectual property regimes, for the common good to ensure global equitable access to vital health innovations.
    • Outcomes Orientation: Align innovation and industrial strategies with bold cross-sectoral missions to deliver Health for All
  • Strengthening Public Capacity for Health for All:
    • Whole-Of-Government: Recognize that Health for All is not just for health ministries but for all government agencies.
    • State Capacity: Invest in the dynamic capabilities of the public sector, institutionalizing experimentation and learning, to lead effectively in delivering Health for All.
    • Build Trust: Demonstrate transparency and meaningful public engagement to hold governments accountable for the common good.

What is the World Health Assembly (WHA)?

  • About:
    • The World Health Assembly (WHA) is WHO’s decision-making body attended by delegations from all of WHO’s member states.
    • It is held yearly at the HQ of WHO, i.e., Geneva, Switzerland.
    • A specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board remains the focus of this assembly.
    • Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, 2022’s assembly is the first in-person assembly.
  • Functions of WHA:
    • Deciding on Organization’s policies.
    • Appointment of the Director-General of WHO.
    • Administration of financial policies.
    • Review and approval of the proposed programme budget.

UPSC Civil Services Examination Previous Year Question (PYQ)

Mains

Q. Appropriate local community-level healthcare intervention is a prerequisite to achieve ‘Health for All’ in India. Explain. (2018)

Source: DTE

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