Macroeconomics and Health (CMH)

MacroHealth Newsletter

No. 3 March 2003


The CMH follow-up process is taking off in many countries. It is providing a good opportunity to national authorities - ranging from ministries and district authorities, to civil society and the private sector - to debate their vision of health and other development plans for incorporating the promotion of better health outcomes into countries development strategies. For example, Ethiopia, which is conducting successful and promising institutional leadership and coordination in the Health Sector Development Program (HSDP)/Sector Wide approach, has expressed a great interest in the Macroeconomics and Health approach. The authorities welcomed the suggestion that a Macroeconomics and Health Technical Group could be established to support the ongoing Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction Program (SDPRP) and woreda (district) decentralization process. The Minister of Health, H.E. Dr Kebede Tadesse said: "The Macroeconomics and Health approach could serve as the rationale for financial sustainability during health sector reforms and as a way of building consensus between the Government and donors for investment in health." This remains of course a very serious challenge in a country like Ethiopia where health expenditure per capita is about US$ 4.50. Furthermore, Ethiopia is currently faced with a very serious emergency drought situation which requires long lasting development strategies.

Dr Angela Benson
WHO Representative a.i., Ethiopia



At a Macroeconomics and Health strategy meeting held in New York in February, participants agreed on an action agenda to continue to strengthen information sharing, and the involvement of WHO's Regional Offices in Macroeconomics and Health work. Developing additional strategic partnerships with other agencies and groups was considered to be of high importance. Participants at the two-day meeting at Columbia University included CMH Support from WHO Headquarters and the South-East Asian Office, and Columbia University. Among themes discussed were: broadening of the original CMH vision to include the issue of structural constraints; the complexity of the CMH- follow-up process; the need to use the best expertise available for mobilizing high-level political commitment; the continuous emphasis on poverty-centred interventions, and support to countries with pro-poor policies; and the need to accelerate the CMH follow-up process in countries, bearing in mind that the national Macroeconomics and Health strategy approaches have to be conceived as long-term efforts to build consensus and a meaningful role of health within national poverty reduction processes.


WHO shared information with UNICEF on the Macroeconomics and Health strategy in an informal meeting held in February in New York. This strategy is particularly relevant for a number of closely related mechanisms promoted by the international community to reduce poverty and facilitate social and economic development, such as the Millennium Development Goals, Sector-Wide approaches, Poverty Reduction Strategy processes and health sector reforms. WHO and UNICEF recognized the need for enhancing synergies between the two organizations to strengthen the link between the Macroeconomics and Health strategy and these activities. To further advocate for macroeconomics and health work and facilitate the development of partnerships at country level, it was also recommended that WHO promote regular exchange of information at the periodic country team's meetings in countries where CMH follow-up activities are ongoing.