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WHO CHRONICLE. 1980 Feb; 34(2):47-52.The Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS) devoted their 1979 conference to the subject of economics and health policy. The discussions were held in 4 main sessions: 1) economic context of health problems and services; 2) economic aspects of health service manpower and technology; 3) financial implications of health services organization; and, 4) conclusions on requirements for future research and policy. Summaries stressed the importance of primary care and the need for prudent use of advanced technologies to control rising health costs. In spite of great differences between free market and centrally planned economies, the trend is toward a convergence of all health care systems. Agreement was reached on the fundamental importance of socioeconomic factors in determining health status; need to eliminate waste and improve cost-effectiveness, including more downward delegation of tasks (paramedical personnel and midwives); and the principle of equal distribution of services in populations. Research is needed into the effects of financing and remunerations in developing countries, cost-effectiveness of health care procedures, better matching of skills to tasks, socioeconomics developments in improving health.