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Agenda: High-level Consultation on the Financial and Economic Crisis and Global Health


Governments and partners are deeply concerned at the potential impact of the financial and economic crisis on global health. Key questions include the following:

  • What will be the impact of the financial crisis and consequent economic downturn on national health budgets and international development assistance, particularly in low- and middle-income/developing countries?
  • What are the likely impacts of these changes on health outcomes?
  • What steps can countries, civil society and international organizations take to protect vulnerable populations from the negative impacts of the current crises?

In order to address these issues, the WHO Director-General is organizing a high-level consultation to address these issues. Taking advantage of the availability of many ministers and senior representatives of ministries of health, the consultation will be held on the morning of 19 January, immediately prior to the opening of the 124th Executive Board meeting.

Objectives of the consultation

  • Build awareness of the likely consequences of the financial/economic crises, and the different ways in which health and health services are likely to be affected;
  • Highlight the importance of sustaining investments in order not only to protect the health of vulnerable populations, but also to promote economic recovery and social stability, to generate efficiency, and to build security; and
  • Share experiences, policy options and interventions used by Member States, civil society and international organizations to monitor and mitigate the negative impacts of the current crises.


Participation is by invitation and will include Executive Board members and their delegations, Member State delegations, civil society organizations, private sector organizations, international organizations and the media.


The consultation will take the form of a panel discussion involving high-level experts from different sectors (finance, development, trade, international financing institutions, the UN, and civil society), followed by a moderated debate with participants in the consultation.

A background paper will be prepared by WHO on the financial and economic crisis and global health. A summary report from the consultation will be available within 48 hours.

Draft consultation programme

09:00 Request to take seats

09:10 Opening comments by the chair; HE Nimal S. de Silva, Minister of Healthcare and Nutrition, Sri Lanka

09:20 Opening comments by WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan

09:30 Introduction by the moderator, Richard Horton, Senior Editor of The Lancet

Introductory comments by panel members:

  • Manoj Kurian, Programme Executive, Health and Healing, World Council of Churches
  • Andrew Steer, Director-General, Policy and Research, DFID, UK
  • HE Maria Farani Azevedo, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Brazil
  • Richard Newfarmer, Special Representative to the UN & the WTO, World Bank

10:00 Moderated discussion among panel members

10:30 Moderated discussion from the floor

12:00 Closing comments from panel members

12:20 Closing comments and conclusions by moderator

12:30 Closure of the consultation by the chair

12:45 Media briefing