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Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Urges International Community To Increase Global Health Spending

Lawrence Summers, a former U.S. Treasury secretary and chief economic adviser to President Obama, visited the University of California, San Francisco on Tuesday “to present a report, ‘Global Health 2035,’ that recommends ‘a grand convergence’ of the international health community ‘around infectious, child and maternal mortality; major reductions in the incidence and consequences of non-communicable diseases and injuries; and the promise of “pro-poor” universal health coverage,’” the San Francisco Chronicle reports. According to the newspaper, “[t]he report was written by the Lancet Commission on Investing in Health, chaired by Summers and staffed by 25 economists and global health experts” with the goal of “‘scaling up new and existing tools’ and health delivery systems to tackle HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, tropical diseases, child and maternal maladies by 2035.”

With a cost for the 34 countries targeted at “about $70 billion a year,” Summers acknowledged “it will require a selling job,” the newspaper writes. But “the payoff should far exceed the cost,” the newspaper states, adding, “According to the report, one-quarter of the income growth in low- and middle-income countries between 2000 and 2011 resulted from health improvements.” The newspaper notes, “Members of the commission will be dispatched beginning next year to brief health and development organizations, finance ministers and other stakeholders” (Ross, 12/18).