United Nations, New York Headquarters, 15 January 2014
The Permanent Mission of Norway and The Lancet Commission on Investing in Health hosted an event at the UN headquarters titled, “Towards a Grand Convergence in Global Health: What Convergence Means for Health after 2015.” Mrs. Jeanne d’Arc Byaje, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Mission of Rwanda to the UN, replaced the Permanent Representative of Norway and gave introductory remarks. She said that health is one of the top priorities and goals on the post 2015 agenda. She noted that the report produced by an independent group of commissioners from the Lancet commission on investing in health analyzes why we should be leaning towards a grand convergence in global health.
Dr. Margaret E. Kruk, Assistant Professor in Health Policy and Management, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and one of the 25 commissioners of the report, introduced the panel. She said that the world diverged in many different ways 200 years after the industrial revolution. The Lancet report, she said, is an independent academic analysis of how to narrow the gap and bring the world back to convergence. The report highlighted that dedicated and targeted investments into the health systems can bring low and middle income countries like Chile, China, Costa Rica and Cuba to a point where their mortality rates are quite similar to most developed countries. Such investment in the health sector, Dr. Kruk said, “will not only bring great health outcomes but also vibrant economic growth because people will be productive.”
Dr. Gavin Yamey, one of the report’s lead authors, highlighted the four key findings of the report. It says that a grand convergence in global health can be achieved within our lifetimes. The commissioners found, from their analyses, that the returns from investing in health are enormous. The report also suggested that fiscal policies, particularly tobacco taxation, are very powerful for curbing non-communicable diseases and injuries. Fourth finding is that pro-poor pathways are an efficient and fair way to achieve both health and financial protection.
H.E. Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Minister of Health, Rwanda, said that Rwanda is one of the rare countries which are going to achieve their MDGs. She said that “we have prepared the country by managing the communicable diseases to be ready for non-communicable diseases.” Dr. Ariel Pablos Méndez, Assistant Administrator for Global Health, USAID, said that the international donor community needs to engage the lower and middle income countries in new ways and encourage them to mobilize their own domestic resources. Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India, ended the presentations with a quote saying, “If we do not create the future, the present extends itself.”
Meeting Title: Towards A Grand Convergence in Global Health: What Convergence Means for Health after 2015
Key Speakers: Mrs. Jeanne d’Arc Byaje, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Mission of Rwanda to the UN; Dr. Margaret E. Kruk, Assistant Professor in Health Policy and Management, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health; Dr. Gavin Yamey, Lead, Evidence-to-Policy Initiative, Global Health Group, University of California, San Francisco; H.E. Dr. Agnès Binagwaho, Minister of Health, Rwanda; Dr. Ariel Pablos Méndez, Assistant Administrator for Global Health, USAID; Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India.
Written by WIT intern: Shan Cheema