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May 16, 2012

Health, Economics, and the 2012 G8 Summit

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Editor in Chief, JAMA, Chicago, Illinois (Dr Bauchner); Dean, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts (Dr Frenk).

Corresponding Author: Howard Bauchner, MD, JAMA, 515 N State St, Chicago, IL 60654 (howard.bauchner@jama-archives.org).

JAMA. 2012;307(19):2102-2104. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.4874

Health and economics are inextricably linked. Health constitutes a vigorous sector of the economy, with effects on inflation, employment, and competitiveness. The World Health Organization estimates that health systems worldwide absorb approximately 10% of the world economy—about US $6 trillion.1 Differences in health expenditures, however, are huge. For instance, the United States spends more than $7000 per capita on health, whereas Eritrea spends less than US $10. For low- and middle-income countries, committing more financial resources to health is a complicated and difficult decision, because most nations face many competing priorities. Nor will improving the health of the world's population be possible unless there is global economic recovery. Enlightened ministers of finance realize that better health contributes to sustainable economic growth through its effects on improved productivity.

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