Intended for healthcare professionals

Health, wealth, and profits

We live in critical times for global health. Big gains made during the millennium development goals era, including a halving of child mortality from 1990 to 2015, fuelled optimism about unabated—or even accelerated—progress. We hear talk of the end of AIDS, universal health coverage by 2030, and a pandemic-free world. But in the current political climate these outcomes are a distant dream. Our era is one of retrenchment and disinvestment in global health, throwing cold water on utopian rhetoric and threatening to reverse recent gains.

This BMJ series on health, wealth, and profits has three themes. The first is the link between health and wealth. The second theme is the rising cost of non-communicable diseases to societies, and the losses in both health and wealth to households, health systems, and national economies. How then can governments, citizens, and societies begin to make progress on regulating large private stakeholders in global health? International collective action, global regulatory frameworks, and other efforts to tackle key risk factors for poor health form the third theme of our series.


Editorials

The extricable links between health, wealth, and profits
A new series aims to to reignite the debate on investing in health and healthcare systems, with a focus on non-communicable diseases, say Gavin Yamey, Devi Sridhar, and Kamran Abbasi.

The hidden power of corporations
The way in which the Coca-Cola Company came to dominate obesity policy in China provides a lesson on the hidden power of corporations, say Martin McKee, Sarah Steele, and David Stuckler.

Trends in global health financing
Low income countries are still unable to fund a basic package of health services, says Marco Schäferhoff and colleagues.

Analysis

Valuing health as development: going beyond gross domestic product
GDP per capita is a narrow, inadequate metric for capturing the true, full value of health investments, say Victoria Fan and colleagues.

Back to the future? Health and the World Bank’s human capital index
Felix Stein and Devi Sridhar warn of the dangers of subsuming health to economic productivity.

To include or not include: renal dialysis policy in the era of universal health coverage
Expensive treatments such as renal dialysis are a challenge for countries aiming for universal coverage. Yot Teerawattananon and colleagues set out a systematic approach to ensuring it is affordable.

Prevention of non-communicable disease: best buys, wasted buys, and contestable buys
Wanrudee Isaranuwatchai and colleagues highlight the importance of local context in making decisions about implementing interventions for preventing non-communicable diseases.

The economy of wellbeing: what is it and what are the implications for health?
Jonathan Cylus and Peter Smith consider how measurement of wellbeing might be used to set public sector priorities.

Investing in the health of girls and women: a best buy for sustainable development
Human rights, theory, evidence, and common sense all suggest that greater investment in women’s health could be among the “best buys” for broader economic development and societal wellbeing, say Michelle Remme and colleagues.

Economic consequences of better health: insights from clinical data
Osondu Ogbuoji and colleagues discuss the links between economic outcomes and health and how to improve our understanding of the effects of specific diseases.