January 6, 2014
San Francisco, CA - The December 3, 2013 launch of Global Health 2035 was met with widespread international news coverage—print media, TV, online and radio.
Most news stories focused on the report's investment plan for achieving a "grand convergence," i.e., a reduction in avertable infectious, maternal, and child deaths to universally low levels by 2035. On the Charlie Rose show, Larry Summers, Commission chair said: "There's only one time in all of history when there's going to be the prospect for convergence." In a one-on-one with Becky Anderson of CNN Summers noted that two hundred years ago, everyone lived short lives and child death rates were high everywhere, but then a divergence occurred and the rich world started to see falling death rates. He went on to say that this "once-in-human-history opportunity" gives the world the chance to see a re-convergence at a high level. The Guardian focused on funding this ambitious goal, stating that around $60bn a year would need to be injected into the healthcare systems of the world's poorest nations.
This "forward-looking" bold investment plan was discussed further by two Commissioners, Richard Feachem and Gavin Yamey, in an Op-Ed on Fareed Zarakia's Global Public Square (GPS) blog at CNN World. Feachem and Yamey argue that the framework laid out in Global Health 2035 "re-thinks the approach to the way aid is delivered, and ensures that lives are saved".
Some newspapers picked up on a different theme of the report: the benefits of tobacco taxation. BBC News quoted the report's suggestion that "tobacco taxation is the single most important public health intervention". The Business Standard commented on the commission's call for increased investment in health research and in development of vaccines, as well as the report's recommendations on taxation of alcohol and sugar.
For an African perspective the Global Post featured Mthuli Ncube, Vice President and Chief Economist of the African Development Bank and one of the report's authors. Nucube was quoted as saying that "the data shows investing in health in Africa would not only boost the economy and GDP over time, but also create jobs and markets for more inclusive growth". Euro News concluded that many contributors to the report, including the African Development Bank, believe expenditure on public health should be 10 or 20 times bigger to boost economic growth but "now they have to convince the politicians".
U.S.News & World Report, in a news feature called "A Victory for Rwanda," highlighted the dramatic achievements in health that Rwanda has made over the past 20 years, making it a model for other low-income countries tackling high mortality rates from infectious, maternal, and child conditions. Twenty years after the genocide, says the feature, "life expectancy in Rwanda has nearly doubled, from 28 years to 56. The country's gross domestic product has tripled in the last decade and more than a million Rwandans escaped poverty between 2005 and 2010 alone."