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G20 Finance Ministers urged to “put their money where their mouth is” following last week’s G20 meeting

We need to see that commitment matched with action. We need to put our money where our mouth is

G20 Finance Ministers

G20 Finance Ministers urged to “put their money where their mouth is” to deliver on pledge to promote public health following last week’s G20 meeting

Following last week’s G20 Finance Ministers’ and Central Bankers’ meeting, G20 Ministers have pledged “to improve the resilience, prevention, detection, preparedness and response of health systems through protecting and investing in public health”.

The communique of the Ministers comes just days after new flagship research by UK based think tank, International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC) that calls for an increase in prevention spending to at least 6% of health budgets.

ILC research finds that economic contributions by older people through spending, working, volunteering and caring will be vital to countries across the G20 in the post-pandemic recovery, but that poor health is a key barrier to unlocking this economic potential.

The flagship ILC report, “Health equals wealth”, which analyses data from across the G20 finds that:

  • Spending by people aged 50 and over across the G20 exceeds the combined GDP of Japan, Australia, Canada and Brazil;
  • Every third dollar is earned by someone aged 50 and over;
  • Enabling more older people to work could increase GDP by 7%.

People in good health work more, spend more and volunteer more

  • People who report being in good rather than poor health are over four times more likely to be in work between the ages of 50 and 65, and over 10 times more likely to be in work between 65 and 74;
  • Older people with better self-reported health are nearly twice as likely to volunteer;
  • A 1% increase in self-reported health is associated with a 20% increase in average yearly spending on eating out among older people.

Spending on preventative healthcare can drive economic contributions of older people

  • Increasing preventative health spending by just 0.1 percentage points can unlock a 9% increase in annual spending by people aged 60 and over;
  • The same increase in spending on preventative health is associated with 10 more hours of volunteering for each person aged 65 and over;
  • Countries where more older people are vaccinated against the flu have higher employment rates for those aged 65 to 69 and higher consumption rates for those aged 60 and over.

Despite strong evidence of the case for investing in preventative health. ILC point out that most Governments don’t invest adequately in preventative health. Canada, the UK and Finland spent 6%, 5.1% and 4% respectively of their health budgets on preventative health in 2018, but most G20 countries spent under 2.5%, and Slovakia spent only 0.8%.

ILC also argue that tackling health inequalities is likely to be the most efficient way to improve health and realise the longevity dividend.

In “Health equals wealth”, ILC urge G20 Governments to maximise the longevity dividend by:

  • Spending at least 6% of their health budgets on preventative health interventions;
  • Tailoring health interventions to meet the needs of disadvantaged groups and prioritising health spending on disadvantaged populations;
  • Supporting the development of the health and care economy in recognition that these industries can create jobs and future growth.

David Sinclair, Director, ILC-UK argued:

“The coronavirus has brought to a fore the relationship between health and wealth. Our new research provides compelling evidence of the folly of competing population health against economic growth. Economic growth needs a healthy population.”

“As our economies become increasingly reliant on older people’s economic contributions, the case for investment becomes urgent. Countries who recognise this and act quickly will gain a competitive advantage.”

“Good health underpins the longevity dividend while poor health limits older people’s ability to work, spend, care and volunteer. “

“Investing in preventing ill health is a key component of economic growth.”

“The commitment by G20 Finance Ministers to increase spend on public health and prevention in particular is a great first step. But we need to see that commitment matched with action. We need to put our money where our mouth is. Now is the time to redouble our efforts.”

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