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Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health

The Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health was convened in 2018 to address the growing global burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Co-chaired by Mike Bloomberg and economist Larry Summers, former Secretary of the U.S. Treasury and former Director of the National Economic Council, the Task Force unites senior fiscal policy, development, and health leaders from around the world. Its aim is to apply neglected fiscal policy tools to address this vast and growing medical and economic burden.

NCDs are the leading cause of death in the world, killing 40 million people each year. Seventy-seven percent of NCD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, imposing a strain on health care systems, contributing to poverty, and obstructing development. Tobacco use, obesity, and excessive alcohol consumption are three leading risk factors for the development of NCDs.

Health Taxes to Save Lives

The Task Force examines and recommends ways in which countries can adjust excise tax policy to help improve public health while also bringing in additional revenue. In April 2019, the Task Force released the “Health Taxes to Save Lives” report, calling on all countries to significantly raise their excise taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and sugary beverages. An analysis conducted for the Task Force estimated that over 50 million premature deaths could be prevented if countries implemented tax increases sufficient to raise the prices of these products by 50% over the next 50 years. The analysis found that the impact of these taxes, projected to yield over $20 trillion in revenue, would be greatest in low- and middle-income countries, where consumption and associated health care costs and productivity losses are on the rise.

Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health Members

Michael R. Bloomberg, co-chair
Lawrence H. Summers, co-chair
Masood Ahmed, President, Center for Global Development, United States
Zeti Aziz, Former Central Bank Governor, Malaysia
Kaushik Basu, Professor of Economics, Cornell University, United States
Mauricio Cárdenas, Former Minister of Finance, Colombia
Margaret Chan, Former World Health Organization Director General, Hong Kong
Helen Clark, Former UNDP Administrator; Former Prime Minister, New Zealand
Bent Høie, Minister of Health and Care Services, Norway
Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance, Indonesia
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Former Minister of Finance, Nigeria
Minouche Shafik, Director, London School of Economics, England
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister, Scotland
Tabaré Vázquez, President, Uruguay
Zhu Min, Director, National Institute of Financial Research, Tsinghua University, China

Top photo: The bus displays a mass media campaign Bloomberg Philanthropies partners developed in Mexico to raise public support for front-of-package warning labels to help people make healthy choices. Photo credit: Alianza por la Salud Alimentaria