Intended for healthcare professionals


Putting economic policy in service of “health for all”

BMJ 2022; 377 doi: (Published 29 April 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;377:o1075
  1. Gerry McCartney, professor of wellbeing economy
  1. University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  1. Gerard.McCartney{at}

The design of economies is too important to leave to economists

The work of the World Health Organization’s Council on the Economics of Health for All12 is a welcome recognition of the central importance of political economy generally,3 and economics specifically,4 in shaping the health of populations. The council’s latest briefing makes the case that economies designed to maximise gross domestic product (GDP) do not value those aspects of society most important for population health: planetary health and the stewardship of earth’s systems that support all life; the social fabric of societies; unpaid labour; human wellbeing; and equity. It also argues that the focus on GDP has consistently led to the creation of economic infrastructure and systems that are holding back progress on population health and creating catastrophic damage to our planet.1

The council proposes several steps to address these challenges.56 The first is adopting a new set of values that prioritise planetary health, social foundations, and activities that promote equity and human health and …

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