World Economic Forum: Women’s & Children’s Health for a Shared Future
The 48th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting taking place in Davos, Switzerland, from 23-26 January, aims to rededicate global leaders from all walks of life to developing a shared narrative to improve the state of the world. The platform, goals and plans of the meeting are concentrated on “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.”
The World Economic Forum was acknowledged in 2015 as an International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation by the Federal Council of Switzerland. It congregates world leaders driving positive change through 14 System Initiatives, one being “Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare.”
How can the world deliver affordable and quality healthcare for nearly 9.7 billion people by 2050?
The world will be home to nearly 9.7 billion people by 2050, putting unprecedented stress on healthcare resources. Technological advancements are transforming care, but for whom and at what cost? What is basic care versus luxury? How is inclusive access to care ensured?
The System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare aims to ensure that people are healthier and can access the care that they need to fulfil their potential. It is putting individuals at the center of the health and healthcare system.
An essential step that must be completed in order to achieve this initiative is securing the right to health for women, children and adolescents. In the recent 2017 article “7 myths about investing in women were debunked,” one of the myths had a direct correlation to the right to health.
“The myth: family-friendly, gender-responsive policies are not worth the investment
The truth: In the US, every $1 invested in family planning results in $7 of savings; in developing countries like Jordan, $1 can result in as much as $16 in savings. The Copenhagen Consensus showed that every dollar spent on modern contraceptive methods will yield $120 in overall benefits.
Companies that invest in family-friendly, gender-responsive policies have found high returns on their investments, including reduced absenteeism and increased productivity. By providing healthcare for women and their children at the workplace, studies in Bangladesh and Egypt point to a $3:17 and $4:17 return on investment.”
But what about children’s right to health? Children are key proponents of economic growth, and their right to health is in large part responsible for their success in life. Children need love, care, protection and stimulation by stable parents and caregivers, otherwise known as “nurturing care.”
Families in extreme poverty find it tough to deliver nurturing care for young children. There are several ways in which governments and social services could support such families. Some meaningful interventions to help provide nurturing care to children include free or subsidized health care, maternity leave, breastfeeding breaks at work, quality and affordable child care and preschool education.
The return on investment in children’s health, like these programs, is substantially more than the cost of implementing them. For example, Pakistan was estimated to lose 8.2% of future GDP to poor childcare and growth.
When women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health is taken under consideration when thinking of the economy as a whole, the yield is positive. In order to create a shared future , we must leave no one behind, especially when it comes to health.