What do we need to do differently to reach the ambitious health-related targets in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development? This was the question at the heart of a dynamic exchange of views between United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and Geneva-based global health leaders on realizing the vision of health in the 2030 Agenda.
The event was hosted by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, and Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, and was chaired by Valentin Zellweger, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva. Engaging ambassadors, international organizations, civil society and private sector stakeholders based in Geneva, the meeting sought to identify gaps in the global health agenda and generate concrete, shared solutions for accelerating country-level impact.
In her remarks, Ms Mohammed highlighted health as central to sustainable development and challenged the participants to identify how health can be a guiding light and integrative force for action across the 2030 Agenda. She emphasized the need for more robust data to better understand current health trends and bring programmes to scale.
Ms Mohammed further called for a mapping of the determinants of health to demonstrate to political leaders the urgent need for stronger multisectoral action. She urged participants to consider how health can showcase collective action and results in the context of United Nations reform.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have vastly expanded the health agenda, bringing to the fore a range of issues that account for a significant burden of morbidity and mortality, but have not yet been embraced as global health priorities. The participants drew attention to a number of SDG targets that continue to have inadequate political commitment and investment, such as those on mental health, noncommunicable diseases, antimicrobial resistance, air pollution, violence against women and the health of migrants.
During the event, the participants provided a number of proposals on leveraging the unique capacity of Geneva-based institutions, including incubating partnerships on peace, health and trade, building on human rights expertise to address the social determinants of health, encouraging the engagement of ministers beyond health in global health discussions and influencing the global funding architecture to support community-driven solutions and responses.
The participants emphasized the potential for global health to be a forerunner in United Nations reform and to bring new ways of working across the agenda for country-level impact.
“The Secretary-General and I place great emphasis on prevention. Investing in prevention to keep people healthy will bring the largest dividend. To do that means addressing social determinants with a myriad of stakeholders in politics, education, trade, civil society, the investor community and beyond.”
“Not only is Geneva the capital of global health, with its critical mass of technical expertise, it also embodies the spirit of collective action, where stakeholders, including international agencies, Member States, civil society, academia and the private sector, can forge innovative partnerships to deliver results for people.”
“Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is about speed, scale and quality. Are we moving fast enough? Are our efforts and investments ambitious enough? And are we delivering quality health services for all? But above all, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a political document. Universal health coverage is a political choice. As technical agencies, we must strengthen our ability to play political roles.”
“Health can be a major entry point for implementing United Nations reform by simplifying and streamlining the health architecture through one inclusive country platform, one implementation plan and one data hub for planning, monitoring and accountability. This will help the United Nations system to be more focused, more aligned and more effective in its support to countries.”