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Publication of World Health Report 2000 'an act of remarkable courage,' says school expert
Date:9/3/2010

Ten years on, Martin McKee reflects on report placed health system performance rankings firmly on political agenda.

Martin McKee, Professor of European Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has contributed one of three commentaries appearing today in the journal Health Policy and Planning, each of which take a different perspective on the World Health Report 2000 on health systems (WHR2000).

It is ten years since the publication of WHR2000, a controversial document which many at the time believed had been published prematurely, and which introduced a new system of performance rankings applied to the health systems of each country. McKee recalls how few observers believed that the World Health Organisation would sanction such a system, given its sensitivity to complaints from health ministers in member states and the lengths its legal department go to in order to avoid appearing critical. Yet, in what he calls 'an act of remarkable courage', it did, leading to predictable responses from the winners and losers.

The tenth anniversary, and the forthcoming publication in November of the World Health Report 2010 on health systems financing, provide an ideal opportunity to reflect on the report's significance, and the changes it brought about.

McKee recalls the criticisms levelled at the report at the time, which ranged from accusations of being 'pro-market' to a claim by one US commentator, in an early taste of the arguments that President Obama would have to address almost a decade later, that the WHO was adopting a Marxist stance by arguing for any more than a token role for the state in providing health care. He also considers the difficulties compiling information on all 192 WHO Member States, some of whom barely functioned and many of which lacked control over all their territory and even the most basic information.

He argues that far from being premature, and despite its limitations, the r
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Contact: Lindsay Wright
lindsay.wright@lshtm.ac.uk
020-792-72073
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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