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Press release


World Health Summit: First negative health effects of due to austerity – a necessary or avoidable evil?

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World Health Summit 2012, Abbildung: “There is first evidence of negative effects of austerity," erklärt WHO-Vertreter Agis Tsouros
“There is first evidence of negative effects of austerity," erklärt WHO-Vertreter Agis Tsouros

Discussions of the most pressing challenges for Global Health center time and again on money. Hence, it was with great interest that the keynote of Josef Ackermann (Chairman Zurich Insurance Group) at the third day of World Health Summit 2012 was being anticipated. Europe will face some years of low growth, perhaps even slight recession, the financial expert stated. Therefore, rational austerity has to be applied in order to renew the economic system sustainably, including the health system. Right steps have already been taken, but “there is no cure without pain”.

What effects the austerity might cause was being touched by Agis Tsouros (Head of the Policy and Cross-cutting Programmes, WHO Europe) in the following press conference while explaining the intention and rational behind WHO’s “Health 2020”-Agenda: “There is first evidence of negative effects of austerity,” although he stressed scientific proof about the exact correlation has yet to be delivered. It is not hard to infer from this statement, that if the observance of increasing health problems due to austerity does proof right, the anticipated years of poor economic growth will inevitably lead to increasing medical problems – in and beyond Europe.

Still, even dire lessons learned might benefit the heterogeneous Asian area, as John Wong (Vice Provost, Academic Medicine, of the National University of Singapore) emphasized in his introduction of the Inaugural World Health Summit Regional Meeting, due April 8th – 10th, 2013. With half of the world’s population living in Asian countries and massive effects of urbanization, severe challenges for health-care have to be faced. In this, Asia could learn a lot from the likewise heterogeneous Europe and thus save efforts. The Regional Meeting will bring the established expertise of the World Health Summit and its network to Asian partici-pants and help to substitute the slow evolution of the health system with learning from best practices and avoidable mistakes. “It would be a crime if Asia established a 20th century health-care system,” which is why the Regional Meeting will be so important, John Wong concluded.

The last press conference of the World Health Summit 2013 will be held on Wednesday, October 24th, 12:20 – 13:10, in Room Bier (5th level). It will focus on the day’s special topic “Information Technology for Health”, featuring these speakers:

Gerd Binnig (Nobel Prize Laureate in Physics 1986)
Volker Wetekam (CEO, GE)
Alain Labrique (JHBSPH,Baltimore)


World Health Summit 2012
October 21st – 24th, 2012
Langenbeck-Virchow-Haus, Luisenstr. 58, 10117 Berlin

(The photo is free for usage – © World Health Summit 2013)


Tobias Gerber

Media & Communication Manager World Health SummitWorld Health Summit

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