June 25, 2008

Health Means Wealth or Wealth Means Health

Ministers of health, experts and more than 500 delegates from 53 countries are meeting in Estonia, to discuss the relationship between health and wealth.

The delegates from the World Health Organization European Region are meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, at the WHO European Ministerial Conference on Health Systems: Health Systems, Health and Wealth.

Between 1970 and 2003 in the western part of the region, increases in life expectancy were worth 29 percent to 38 percent of gross domestic product and far exceeded each country's health expenditures.

A 2006 survey of 26 affluent countries, covering 1960 to 2000, found that a 10 percent reduction in cardiovascular mortality was associated with a 1 percentage point increase in the annual growth of per-capita income. In a recent study of the Russian Federation, good health -- compared to less good health -- was found to increase wages by 22 percent for women and 18 percent for men.

Three reports on how ill health can be an economic burden and how well-run health systems can contribute to wealthier societies will also be discussed at the Tallinn conference, a statement said.