The World Health Organization’s Health Evidence Network (WHO HEN) and the European Office for Investment for Health and Development have published a new report on ‘Investment for health and well-being’ in collaboration with Public Health Wales.

Produced by Public Health Wales’ Policy, Research and International Development Directorate, the report provides the most up-to-date evidence on the wider social, economic and environmental returns on investment in public health policies in the European Region.

The report proposes an overarching framework for investments for health and wellbeing to outline the inter-links between health and sustainable development.

Using a social return on investment (SROI) approach, The evidence gathered has led to three key findings:

  • Doing ‘business as usual’ is unsustainable
  • Investment in public health policies provides effective, efficient, inclusive and innovative solutions and drives social, economic and environmental sustainability
  • Investment for health and well-being is a driver and an enabler of sustainable development and vice versa.

The report is being used by the World Health Organization (WHO) to inform a Roadmap to implement the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and builds on the WHO’s European health strategy and policy framework, Health 2020. The Roadmap is set to be approved at the 67th WHO Regional Committee for Europe meeting this week in Budapest, Hungary.

Dr Christoph Hamelmann, Head of the WHO European Office for Investment for Health and Development said: “Strong evidence suggests that investing in public health enhances human and social capital, drives resilience and equitable economic growth, and benefits our planet, security, prosperity and peace, thus enabling and driving sustainable development.

“The WHO European Member States have a unique opportunity to achieve their development objectives through action towards rights-, value- and evidence-based investment for health and well-being, achieving the highest attainable standard of health for all at all ages.”

The report summarises a list of 12 key cross-sector areas for priority investment and three ‘pathways’ through which health and well-being drive sustainable development: ‘health and security’, ‘social and equity’, and ‘economic and innovation’.

Professor Mark Bellis, Director of Policy, Research and International Development at Public Health Wales said: “The report brings together affordable and evidenced based recipes for sustainable and equitable health across Europe.

“We are delighted to have led this study on behalf of WHO Europe and to have worked with health and economic experts from across the continent.

“In Wales, the world-leading Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act demonstrates our clear commitment to sustainable health for everyone. This report is an important tool to help us deliver that aspiration and we hope it will also act as a useful guide for all nations working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“We look forward to strengthening our collaboration with WHO and further work on these important issues.”

The full report, the associated leaflet and the supporting paper on SROI can be viewed on the WHO EURO website via the links below:

Investment for health and well-being evidence synthesis report  

Investment for health and well-being highlights leaflet

Social Return on Investment: Accounting for value in the context of implementing Health 2020 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development