Frenk: Economic Growth Boosts Public Health, and Vice Versa

Dr. Julio Frenk at Asia Society Hong Kong Center on January 29, 2013. (Stephen Tong/Asia Society Hong Kong Center)

HONG KONG, January 29, 2013 — Former Mexican Minister of Health Dr. Julio Frenk addressed correlations between economic growth and public health here, arguing that economic growth promotes better health at the same time that a healthy population is, in turn, essential to economic growth.

Frenk, the current Dean of Harvard School of Public Health, said that over the past century economic growth has been proven to lead to better health because people have access to improved living conditions, housing, nutrition and more opportunities for education.

Recent research has also shown that "improving human health is also instrumental for other social objectives," Frenk added. Citing development economists, he maintained good health reduces poverty, increases labor productivity, improves academic performance, protects family assets and improves the investment climate.

Frenk also broke down major threats currently affecting human health, such as pandemic and infectious diseases, unhealthy lifestyles, poverty, and ineffective health care.

Video: Watch the complete program (1 hr., 3 min.)