Rethinking Health Beyond Healthcare: A New Strategy for the Post Pandemic WorldTHE REPORT OF THE PANEUROPEAN COMMISSION ON HEALTH AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, CHAIRED BY MARIO MONTI, CALLS FOR A DISRUPTIVE CHANGE IN THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT HEALTH, TWO SCHOLARLY COMMENTS ARGUE
If the pandemic has taught us something, it is that “no country can do it alone. We need a multilateral rules-based system in which everyone recognizes their interdependence on this small planet and acts accordingly,” concludes a comment, published on The Lancet, about the recent Report of the Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development.
The Commission, established by the WHO Regional Office for Europe and comprising experts from a wide range of backgrounds chaired by Mario Monti (Bocconi President and former Italian Prime Minister and European Commissioner) with contribution of Aleksandra Torbica (Associate Professor and Director of CERGAS at Bocconi) as his Special Advisor, has now set out an ambitious agenda to achieve a healthy and secure future for all. In the attempt to “draw the light” from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission makes a series of recommendations defining “new strategy for health and sustainable development”, formulated in 7 objectives. The strategy proposed is based on an extensive evidence review, result of an outstanding collective effort of scholars across the pan-European region who have advised the work of the Commission.
“The pandemic has shone a light on the fractures that existed in our societies. Above all, the financial sector has realized the cost of failing to invest in health and preparedness. The doors are opening. The fight for health has spread beyond borders of the healthcare systems. The question now is whether the health community will seize the opportunity to enter and engage,” writes Aleksandra Torbica, in an opinion published in BMJ.
The spread of SARS-CoV-2 to humans arose, like so many emerging infectious diseases, at the interface between humans, animals, and the natural environment. The report, then, warmly suggests adopting the One Health philosophy. One Health is an approach that recognizes that the health of people is closely connected to the health of animals and our shared environment. This implies that ministries of Health, Agriculture, and Environment can’t work in separate compartments anymore, and the same is true for international policy makers dealing with the same topics.
The report calls for a change in the global governance of health, in the same way the 2007 financial crisis forced changes in the global governance of the financial markets.
Other recommendations include a new pandemic treaty, a Global Health Board, modelled on the Financial Stability Board created by the G20 after the global financial crisis, and new pan-European structures, including a Health Threats Council to secure high-level political commitment and a health surveillance network that spans the entire 53-country European region.
The report highlights that underinvestment in healthcare across the world weakened the capacity to react to an event such as the pandemic, and that social determinants of health, such as digital exclusion, were clearly revealed. National systems need to change the way they record public spending, which fails to recognize the value of investment in the future, and must fix the social safety net that has been torn asunder.
Mario Monti, Aleksandra Torbica, Elias Mossialos, Martin McKee, “A new strategy for health and sustainable development in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Lancet, Volume 398, Issue 10305, 18–24 September 2021, Pages 1029-1031. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)01995-4.
Aleksandra Torbica, “A paradigm shift in how we think about health is needed if we are to build back better.” theBMJopinion, September 21, 2021.
Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development, “Report - Drawing light from the pandemic. A new strategy for health and sustainable development.” September 2021.
Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development, “Evidence Review- Drawing light from the pandemic. A new strategy for health and sustainable development.” September 2021.
by Fabio Todesco