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Monday, 29 February 2016

Health in sustainable development goals

In September 2015, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the global Goals for Sustainable Development (i.e., SDGs), altogether 17 in number. Compared to the narrow, focused nature of the MDGs, the SDGs took a holistic view of development and put sustainable environment at its centre. The third goal is on health, stated as: ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. Beside Goal 3, other Goals e.g., Goal 1 (No poverty), Goal 2 (No hunger), Goal 4 (Quality education), Goal 5 (Gender equality), Goal 6 (water and sanitation), Goal 10 (Reduced inequalities), Goal 11 (Sustainable cities and communities), Goal 16 (Peace and justice), and Goal 17 (Partnerships) are linked to the health SDG 3.

Now, let us look closer to the targets. Under Goal 3, there are 9 programme targets  and 4 implementation targets. Of the programme targets, 4 targets deal with the unfinished agenda of the MDGs, with some expansion. These are: reduce maternal mortality (3.1), end preventable neonatal and child mortality (3.2), end HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria +combat hepatitis, waterborne and other communicable diseases (3.3), ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health services (3.7).

The new targets include reduction of mortality from NCDs and promote mental health (3.4), prevention and treatment of substance abuse (3.5), reduce deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents (3.6), and reduce mortality and morbidity from hazardous chemicals and air/water/soil pollution (3.9). The 4 implementation targets are: framework convention on tobacco (3a), access to, and research for, medicines and vaccines for all (3b), health financing and health workforce increase (3c), and finally, strengthen capacity for early warning, risk reduction and management of health risks (3d).

Now the question is: how to prioritise different activities which would have a bearing on advancing UHC in countries?

This was the theme of the recent Prince Mahidol Award Conference 2016 (PMAC 2016) January 26-31, 2016 held in Bangkok, Thailand:“Priority Setting for Universal Health Coverage. The conference (www.pmaconference.mahidol.ac.th) focussed on priority setting in the context of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by discussing important issues, such as exploring how to organize priority setting, linking research and UHC policy, and sharing experiences of priority setting mechanisms between countries.

A synthesis, summary and conclusions of the deliberations of the conference can be found at: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/t6zp7ml46f1yjrj/AAD7idUO-hc7mPoiOWAVqYyUa?dl=0

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