The World Health Organization released this Tuesday (8th) a new comprehensive analysis of global health trends since 2000 and an evaluation of the challenges for the next 15 years. Health in 2015: from MDGs to SDGs (available in English) identifies the main drivers of progress in health within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the United Nations (UN). The publication sets out actions that the countries and the international community should prioritize in order to achieve the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which come into force on January 1st 2016.
The 17 SDGs are larger and more ambitious that the MDGs, presenting an agenda relevant to all people in all countries to ensure that “no one is left behind”. The new agenda requires that all three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – are addressed in an integrated manner.
Almost all SDGs are directly related to health or will indirectly contribute to health. One of the objectives (SDG3) says specifically to “ensure a healthy lifestyle and to promote well-being for all, in all ages”. One of the 13 goals is to deepen progress in the MDGs and to reflect a new focus to noncommunicable diseases and reach of universal health coverage.
“Universal health coverage crosses all the health-related goals”, says Marie-Paule Kieny, Deputy Director-General of Health Systems and Innovation of the WHO. “It is the axis of development in the area of health and reflects the strong focus of the SDGs on equality and reach of the poorest, most disadvantaged people around the world”.
Although the health MDGs have not achieved a series of global targets, the overall results were impressive. The last 15 years have witnessed major declines in infant and maternal mortality, as well as the progress in the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in developing countries.
Among the key ingredients for success are the duplication of funding for global health, the creation of new funding mechanisms and partnerships, as well as the fundamental role of civil society in the fight against diseases like HIV/Aids. Investments in research have led to the increase of scale in all countries of new interventions such as antiretroviral therapy for HIV treatment and bed nets impregnated with insecticide to prevent malaria.
The WHO report presents the latest data and in depth analysis of the key areas defined in the SDGs:
• reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health
• infectious diseases, including HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis and neglected tropical diseases
• noncommunicable diseases, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes
• mental health and substance use, including narcotics and harmful use of alcohol
• injuries and violence
• universal health coverage
“Snapshots” in 34 different health topics outline trends, achievements, reasons for success, challenges and strategic priorities for improving health in different areas. These “snapshots” goes from air pollution, going through hepatitis, up to traffic accidents.
In this report, WHO also explores how health contributes and takes advantage of the 16 other SDGs, in addition to reviewing implications of emerging issues such as technological and environmental change on global health.
The goals of the health related SDGs faithfully reflect the main priorities in the work program for 2014-2019 of WHO; many of these goals have been agreed by Member States at the World Health Assembly. For example, the global voluntary goals for prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases set in 2013 are closely linked to the SDGs 3.4 target, to reduce premature mortality for these diseases in 1/3 until 2030. The WHO executive bodies will have a key role in monitoring and evaluating the implementation of health related SDGs.
“One of the main challenges will be to measure progress by means of an impressive number of goals, especially with the lack of health data in developing countries”, says Kieny. “The monitoring of SDGs requires high quality data, for example, on the causes of death of all groups of the population so that we know where we need to direct resources “.
WHO is working with partners to establish a collaboration of health data in early 2016, which seeks to support countries to build better health data systems. One of the first products of that global cooperation is the WHO Global Reference List of 100 Essential Indicators, published earlier this year, which is already being used to guide the work in many countries.
“As the global agency with the mandate to cover the entire agenda of health, WHO will assume a leadership role in supporting countries to establish their own goals and national strategies, advising on more advantageous terms, defining research priorities and monitoring progress in the achievement of SDGs health related”, says Kieny.
In 2016, WHO will publish the first in a series of annual reports of SDGs to set the base and measure progress towards the achievement of the goals over the next 15 years.
Health in 2015: from MDGs to SDGs está is available at: www.who.int/gho/publications/mdgs-sdgs/en/index.html (in English).