Health and wealth in Europe

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.a344 (Published 19 June 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:1390

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. David J Hunter, professor of health policy and management1,
  2. Tessa Richards, assistant editor2
  1. 1Durham University Queen’s Campus, Thornaby, Stockton on Tees TS17 6BH
  2. 2BMJ, London WC1H 9JR
  1. d.j.hunter{at}durham.ac.uk

European initiative seeks to spur action to tackle widening health divides

Next week, health ministers from all 53 member states of the World Health Organization’s European Region will meet in Tallinn to agree on a new charter. The first pan-European charter on health systems—signed in Ljubljana in 1989—focused on the purpose, goals, and core values of health systems. The Tallinn charter is more ambitious. Its aim is to spur political recognition of the economic case for investing in health systems, and to promote more effective stewardship of health resources by governments.

Expenditure on health services is still widely viewed as a short term cost, but substantial evidence now exists that it can benefit the economy. According to WHO, increasing life expectancy at birth by 10% increases economic growth by 0.35% each year.1 The view that health and wealth go together was also at the heart of the Wanless report, which argued that putting a high priority on disease prevention and effective early treatment would reduce future healthcare costs.2 Former European Union Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, …

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