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Analysis Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health

Financing women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 14 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4267
  1. Geir Sølve Sande Lie, economist1,
  2. Agnes L B Soucat, lead economist, global leader 2,
  3. Suprotik Basu, chief executive officer 3
  1. 1Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland
  2. 2World Bank, Washington, DC, USA
  3. 3Office of the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Financing the Health MDGs and for Malaria, MDG Health Alliance
  1. Correspondence to: G Lie lieg{at}

While global investment in women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health has increased in recent years, significant gaps remain. Geir Lie and colleagues propose five strategic shifts in financing

Better health is not a cost; it is a benefit, and there is strong evidence that investing in health and in women, children, and adolescents yields significant benefits to society and the economy.1 2 3 4 5 The primary benefits can be measured in terms not only of saved lives but also longer and healthier lives. The secondary benefits are economic and manifest themselves in productivity gains and economic progress. Recent estimates have noted that as much as 25% of growth in full income (which measures the full economic benefit of better health as valued by individuals) in low and middle income countries between 2000 and 2011 resulted from improvements in health.2

However, far too many newborns, children, adolescents, and women still die from preventable conditions every year, and far too few have reliable access to good quality health services. Scaling up from the current levels of healthcare coverage to the global convergence targets (that is, a mortality rate among under 5s of no more than 16 deaths per 1000 live births, an annual death rate from AIDS of 8/100 000 population, and an annual death rate from tuberculosis of 4/100 000 population2) currently faces a significant financing gap. The World Bank has estimated that $33.3bn (£21.4bn; €30.4bn) would be needed in 2015 alone in the 63 high burden, low and lower middle income countries included in the “Countdown to 2015” initiative (, equivalent to $10 per person.6


The paper was based on a literature review and synthesis of evidence from relevant documents, including “grey” (not formally published) literature, datasets, and the latest estimates from the World Bank, the Partnership for …

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