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Ruchir Agarwal and Ms. Gita Gopinath
Pandemics and epidemics pose risks to lives, societies, and economies, and their frequency is expected to increase as rising trade and increased human interaction with animals leads to the emergence of new diseases. The COVID-19 pandemic teaches us that we can and must be better prepared, with scope for much greater global coordination to address the financing, supply-chain, and trade barriers that amplified the pandemic’s economic costs and contributed to the emergence of new variants. This paper draws seven early lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic that could inform future policy priorities and help shape a better global response to future crises.
Ruchir Agarwal, Ms. Gita Gopinath, Jeremy Farrar, Richard Hatchett, and Peter Sands
The pandemic is not over, and the health and economic losses continue to grow. It is now evident that COVID-19 will be with us for the long term, and there are very different scenarios for how it could evolve, from a mild endemic scenario to a dangerous variant scenario. This realization calls for a new strategy that manages both the uncertainty and the long-term risks of COVID-19. There are four key policy implications of such as strategy. First, we need to achieve equitable access beyond vaccines to encompass a comprehensive toolkit. Second, we must monitor the evolving virus and dynamically upgrade the toolkit. Third, we must transition from the acute response to a sustainable strategy toward COVID-19, balanced and integrated with other health and social priorities. Fourth, we need a unified risk-mitigation approach to future infectious disease threats beyond COVID-19. Infectious diseases with pandemic potential are a threat to global economic and health security. The international community should recognize that its pandemic financing addresses a systemic risk to the global economy, not just the development need of a particular country. Accordingly, it should allocate additional funding to fight pandemics and strengthen health systems both domestically and overseas. This will require about $15 billion in grants this year and $10 billion annually after that.
Patrick Petit, Mario Mansour, and Mr. Philippe Wingender
Fighting the obesity epidemic has so far proven a difficult challenge, given the diversity of natural and processed foods, the complexity of food supply chains, and the fact that targeting excessive caloric consumption is far trickier than reducing overall consumption (as for tobacco). Nevertheless, efforts to curb caloric intake are gearing up and the experience from tobacco control has drawn much attention on a potential role for excise taxes in fighting obesity. Many related questions have therefore been raised as part of the IMF’s capacity development work: Should excises on unhealthy food be used to fight obesity? If so, under what conditions? What are the product and market characteristics that would help identify the relevant tax bases and the rates at which to tax them? While acknowledging that the scientific evidence keeps evolving, this note summarizes the ongoing debate and practice on food excises and on their potential role as a policy tool to fight the obesity epidemic, with a view to assist policymakers in deciding whether to go forward, and if so, how.How to Apply Excise Taxes to Fight Obesity
Mr. Paolo Mauro
This note provides an overview of recent studies that have begun to investigate how differing moral perspectives shape attitudes toward tax and spending policies. Recent advances in evolutionary moral psychology and their application to survey-based economic analysis yield promising insights. Understanding the moral underpinnings of various groups’ views may help policymakers design and make the case for measures that can muster broader support.