Tag Archives: Health

As UN marks 75 years, let us work together to realize the opportunities in African unity

Ms. Fatima Kyari Mohammed is the Permanent Observer and Head of Mission of the African Union to the United Nations. She spoke to Africa Renewal about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, marking a milestone year in the fight for women’s rights and reflections on the African Union’s relationship with the UN in its 75th year. Here are the excerpts:

Ms. Fatima Kyari Mohammed is the Permanent Observer and Head of Mission of the African Union to the United Nations

Ms. Fatima Kyari Mohammed is the Permanent Observer and Head of Mission of the African Union to the United Nations

How is COVID-19 affecting Africa’s priorities such as the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063?

As you are aware, Agendas 2030 and 2063 are very much aligned. Priority areas such as ending poverty and hunger, achieving food security and addressing some of the broader socio-economic challenges in health, education and employment, particularly for the most vulnerable, have been greatly impacted in ways that were not foreseen even a year ago. The pandemic has forced us to refocus our attention in some areas and re-allocate resources. COVID-19 has shown us how interconnected the world is. No individual, country or region is immune to this reality.

How has it impacted your work?

Just like everyone else, we have had to reorganize to ensure we are able to deliver on our commitments and our mandate. We shifted some priorities. It was important to understand the pandemic and its implications and try to overcome the hurdles that come with it.

Africa’s continent-wide response slowed the spread of the pandemic earlier this year. How can the countries better deal with this challenge?   

The advantage for Africa with the pandemic has been two-fold. First, drawing lessons from the Ebola outbreak, many African countries quickly put in place measures for curbing the spread of COVID-19 well ahead of time. Second, in terms of timing, the pandemic hit the continent at a time when many other regions were already going through the worst of it. So, we had ample time to learn from the experiences of others.

Currently, through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the African Union (AU) is supporting public health institutions across the continent through innovation and strategic partnerships.

We are coordinating and providing integrated solutions to our public health systems particularly where there is weak or inadequate infrastructure by offering training and equipment so that countries are better prepared to respond to future health emergencies and disasters.

How can Africa recover better from the pandemic?

The biggest blow for most African countries is that socio-economic gains have been hindered. The impact on economic development is devastating. Beyond the impact on health and education, economic stress on people is of major concern.

Countries should use this experience as an opportunity to rebuild better and stronger. The impact on jobs, businesses, and family incomes means that responses and strategies we put in place must focus on ways and means to support those hardest hit. We need smart investments and policies that can eradicate extreme poverty and provide access and equal opportunities for all.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is making a case for the bridging of inequality in a post-COVID-19 development order. How could the AU, including your office, help actualize the SG’s vision for the benefit of the continent?

Partnership between the AU and the UN is a top priority for us. The Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, strongly supports the UN Secretary-General’s appeal for collective action against this scourge and for a global ceasefire. We can only contain the pandemic if we work together. The AU Observer Mission to the UN will continue to support the vision and the priorities of both institutions.

Several studies show that women are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. What is the role of women in the recovery process?

It is true that even before the pandemic hit, we advocated for women’s full participation in decision making. Economies are stronger and peace processes more successful with women’s active participation. Women can achieve success, from the lowest community level and up. I would encourage women to continue to speak up against injustices and for one another. This pandemic has increased incidences of gender-based violence, which should not be tolerated. If we truly want to make a change, we, men and women, must keep advocating, educating and exposing perpetrators of gender-based violence.

2020 is a milestone year for women—with Beijng+25, UNSC Resolution 1325+20, and 15 years since the Maputo Protocol entered into force—all of which challenge old stereotypes about the role of women in society. To what extent have African countries achieved progress in gender equality?

The progress made by Africa since the Beijing 4th Conference on Women in 1995 is commendable, but we still have a long way to go. We have strong, progressive, global and continental policies, strategies and action plans on women, peace and security. Yet women and girls continue to bear the brunt of conflicts in Africa. They are the victims of sexual violence and other forms of abuse and they are underrepresented in peace processes at the local, national and continental levels. The AU’s strategy on gender equality is aligned with the UNSC Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security agenda.

However, implementation still remains a challenge, including the meaningful participation of women in peace and security activities. This milestone should revitalize the need for women’s voices to be heard in the peace and security agenda. There is no doubt that the AU’s partnership with women’s organizations across the continent is the vehicle for concrete actions.

The African Union’s Peace and Security Council recently adopted the Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security. How do you envisage the role of young people in the attainment of peace and security in Africa?

Despite the adoption of the framework you referred to, we are still at the very beginning of this journey. Today’s youth—the largest generation of young people in history—are marginalized, excluded, exploited and easily drawn into conflict. Many young people, especially young women, lack resources and opportunities to realize their potential and participate in political, peace and security processes. Instead, they are vulnerable, especially during conflicts.

The framework itself reinforces the call for action on youth, peace and security in Africa. Its adoption is a recognition that young people are Africa’s greatest asset. It helps expand possibilities for active youth involvement in decision-making processes as well as planning and programming.

The UN is supporting the AU’s campaign on ‘Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020.’ What does it mean for Africa when the guns are silent and how is your office working with the international community to achieve this goal?

Let me put the question into context: The Silencing the Guns (STGs) in Africa initiative was a pledge by African leaders in May 2013 to end all wars on the continent by 2020. As you know, STGs is a critical element of Africa’s Agenda 2063, and the AU Peace and Security Council later adopted a Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to silence the guns by 2020. The roadmap emphasizes structural interventions in several areas such as socio-economic development, youth and women’s empowerment, employment, education, climate change and governance.

We are working with partners to shift the narrative and ensure sustainable peace on the continent. But we still have a lot of work to do in carrying the international community along. Silencing the guns in Africa means being able to develop and move forward and build a peaceful and prosperous continent for our people.

As the UN turns 75, how critical has the organization been to Africa’s peace, security and development?

The partnership between the AU and UN in peace and security is very relevant.  The two organizations work together in many areas. We have annual consultations, a joint taskforce, we go on joint field visits and carry out mediation efforts. We also cooperate on electoral matters and governance, as well as the protection of human rights, among others.

Africa continues to make a case for more representation on the UN Security Council (UNSC). What is the strongest argument for such a case?

As you are aware, Africa has a common position on the UNSC reform. Africa has consistently made the case for representation in the “Permanent” category of the Council. Also, there is a need for more African representation in the “non-Permanent” category in order to achieve true and meaningful reform of the UN Security Council. Equitable geographical representation in line with the principles, objectives and ideals of the UN Charter can only lead to a fairer and more equitable world.

At any one time, there are three African states holding non-Permanent seats in the UN Security Council, the so-called A3. What would you say are the three top achievements of the A3 in recent times in advancing Africa’s agenda?

First, there has been stronger coordination among the members, particularly in the last couple of years. This has helped in championing Africa’s common positions, interests and concerns on issues of peace and security that are on the UN Security Council’s agenda.

Second, we have now established annual meetings between AUPSC [African Union Peace and Security Council] and the UNSC. It demonstrates a commitment by the two councils to work together on matters of peace and security in Africa. The A3 ensures effective consultations.

Third, the A3 has helped create opportunities for alliances with other member of the UNSC, ensuring that they support our global cause for world peace.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is touted as Africa’s next big thing. Why should Africans be hopeful?

The objective of the AfCFTA is to leverage the opportunity of a huge population of approximately 1.3 billion people and an estimated combined GDP of $3.4 trillion by creating a single market for goods and services, facilitating free movement of goods and people, accelerating investments and potentially establishing a Customs Union.

The AfCFTA could lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty by 2035. So, why should African not be hopeful? The AfCFTA is our ambition for collective progress and development. Of course, there are policies and regulatory measures that need to be in place, but some of these are already being put in place in countries and the sub-regions.

What message of hope do you have for Africans during this trying period?

As we mark the 75th year of the UN, we must reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic and work together in combating it and cooperating for sustainable recovery. As I said earlier, the pandemic has exposed many gaps, but it has also reinforced the fact that we live in an interconnected world. As Africans, we must recognize the potential and opportunities in African unity and work together.

We are all part of humankind. We cannot ignore the fact that the world is hurting. Collective action, mutual respect, and regard for international rules and norms are crucial if we must achieve our common objectives.  In short, multilateralism matters.

Article first appeared in Africa Renewal on 29 September 2020.

Solidarity needed to stop COVID increasing illicit drug threats to poor and vulnerable

By Ghada Waly

More people are using drugs, and more illicit drugs are available than ever. The COVID-19 crisis has exposed our fragility, with health systems strained and social safety nets stretched to the

Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

limit. The economic downturn caused by the global pandemic may drive more people to substance abuse or leave them vulnerable to involvement in drug trafficking and related crime.

We have been here before. In the global recession that followed the 2008 financial crisis, drug users sought out cheaper synthetic substances and patterns of use shifted towards injecting drugs, while governments reduced budgets to deal with drug-related problems.

Vulnerable and marginalized groups, youth, women and the poor have been harmed the most. Now facing the gravest socio-economic crisis in generations, governments cannot afford to ignore the dangers illicit drugs pose to public health and safety.

All over the world, the risks and consequences of drug use are worsened by poverty, limited opportunities for education and jobs, stigma and social exclusion, which in turn helps to deepen inequalities, moving us further away from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

While more people use drugs in developed countries than in developing countries, and wealthier segments of society have a higher prevalence of drug use, people who are socially and economically disadvantaged are more likely to develop drug use disorders.

Only one out of eight people who need drug-related treatment receive it, according to the World Drug Report 2020 from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Some 35.6 million people suffer from drug use disorders globally.

One out of three drug users is a woman but women represent only one out of five people in treatment. People in prison settings, minorities, immigrants and displaced people also face barriers to treatment due to discrimination and stigma.

Around 269 million people used drugs in 2018, up 30 per cent from 2009, with adolescents and young adults accounting for the largest share of users. While the increase reflects population growth and other factors, the data nevertheless indicate that illicit drugs are more diverse, more potent and more available.

At the same time, more than 80% of the world’s population, mostly living in low- and middle-income countries, are deprived of access to controlled drugs for pain relief and other essential medical uses.

Governments have repeatedly pledged to work together to address the challenges posed by the world drug problem, in the SDGs, and most recently in the 2019 Ministerial Declaration adopted by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. But data indicate that support has actually fallen over time, imperilling government commitment as well as regional and global coordination.

Development assistance dedicated to drug control fell by some 90% between 2000-2017. Funding to address drugs may be provided under other budget lines, but there is little evidence of international donor attention to this priority. Assistance for alternative development – creating viable, licit forms of income to enable poor farmers to stop growing illicit opium poppy or coca – also remains very low.

Balanced, comprehensive and effective responses to drugs depend on shared responsibility. I urge governments to live up to their commitments and provide support.

Leaving no one behind requires greater investment in evidence-based prevention, as well as treatment and other services for drug use disorders, HIV, hepatitis C and other infections.

We need international cooperation to increase access to controlled drugs for medical purposes, while preventing diversion and abuse, and to strengthen law enforcement action to dismantle the transnational organized crime networks.

Expanding knowledge about the impacts of drugs on women and men, young and old, and different social groups can improve care. Use of alternatives to conviction and punishment for appropriate cases, in line with the international drug control conventions, can improve the chances for successful rehabilitation and reintegration.

Health-centred, rights-based and gender-responsive approaches to drug use and related diseases deliver better public health outcomes. We need to do more to share this learning and support implementation, most of all in developing countries, including by strengthening cooperation with civil society and youth organizations. We need to know more and care more.

As we seek to overcome and recover from the COVID-19 crisis, our societies cannot risk compounding illicit drug threats through inattention and neglect. We need drug strategies addressing the country level, as well as regional and interregional challenges. Governments need to mobilize financial resources, and more importantly, societal and institutional support – not one sector or one ministry but all efforts concerted and consolidated to achieve impact.

We need all countries to show greater solidarity, to address and build resilience to drug problems so the world can build back better from the pandemic.

Ghada Waly is the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

COVID-19: Bright colours to ‘soften the pain’

By: 

FRANCK KUWONU

Mounia Lazali, is a professional designer and a painter based in Algeria. Like, others around the African continent, she is playing her part in helping contain the COVID-19 pandemic. With many countries facing face mask shortages, Ms. Lazali is sewing hundreds of them using colorful fabrics to donate to fellow Algerians. She spoke to Africa Renewal’s Franck Kuwonu about her initiative:

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Mounia Lazali and my artist’s name is MYA. I am 43 years old and I live in Algiers, the capital city of Algeria. I am a graduate of the École supérieure des Beaux-Arts (College of Fine Arts) in Algiers and the University of Language and Culture in Beijing, China. I’m also a professional painter as well as a textile, furniture and graphic arts designer.

When did you start producing face masks?

I started making face masks on 18 March this year. I remember that day because immediately I made the first batch, I published a photo of myself wearing the colourful face masks on Facebook. I like to share all my creations instantly on social media networks because I find it an interesting way to interact with other people, raise awareness about something and to share creative content.

What drove you to making the face masks?

My whole life revolves around beauty and aesthetics. Personally, I did not want to wear the usual surgical mask at this time of confinement because it reminds me of difficult phase of my life where I was sick for a long time and had to wear one. So, I thought that the colourful textiles I use for my designs could help soften all this fear and pain around this pandemic.

I had gone to China for my studies a few months after the end of SARS. That allowed me to adapt quickly to the hygiene measures prescribed, including wearing face masks. I remember that masks were worn during periods of great pollution too so I was familiar with this kind of accessory and other personal protection measures against such diseases.

On the other hand, when COVID-19 broke out, I knew we were facing a shortage of masks in Algeria, as was the case elsewhere. I’m good at sewing and I had a stock of fabrics I had brought from Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, so I took the plunge!

How many masks do you produce per day?

I make more than 300 masks, some of which are distributed to friends, neighbours, local merchants, associations and medical staff. Others are sold for a small amount.

What materials do you use to make the masks?

I use African prints cotton and cotton waxed fabrics. They are also lined. To ensure that they are safe for use to make masks, the fabrics are first machine-washed at 60°Celsius, ironed several times during the creation process, and disinfected one more time by the last ironing.

How do you distribute the masks?

People come to my house and ring the intercom to make an order. I then pack the masks in an envelope and put them at the entrance of the house with the customer’s names on it. When it is a small quantity, I leave them in the mailbox for people to collect. It is very important for me to respect the safety and social distancing measures required around COVID-19, especially because of my health history, but also for my customers coming to collect their masks.

What role are women in Algeria playing in the fight against COVID-19?

At the moment, women are helping to raise awareness on social networks. This is not to forget that we have women medics – doctors and nurses – who are on the frontline in this fight against COVID-19. They risk their lives for us every day.

What is your message to fellow Algerians at this time of COVID-19?

Let us maintain solidarity! Let us remain aware of the changes we are experiencing, because from now on nothing will ever be the same again. Let us be more respectful of nature, wildlife and everything that makes up our ecosystem.

For more information on COVID-19, visit www.un.org/coronavirus

Africa Renewal

COVID-19: We Will Come Through This Together

by António Guterres

The upheaval caused by the coronavirus – COVID-19 — is all around us.  And I know many are anxious, worried and confused.  That’s absolutely natural.

UNSG Antonio Guterres

We are facing a health threat unlike any other in our lifetimes.

Meanwhile, the virus is spreading, the danger is growing, and our health systems, economies and day-to-day lives are being severely tested.

The most vulnerable are the most affected—particularly our elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions, those without access to reliable health care, and those in poverty or living on the edge.

The social and economic fallout from the combination of the pandemic and slowing economies will affect most of us for some months.

But the spread of the virus will peak.  Our economies will recover.

Until then, we must act together to slow the spread of the virus and look after each other.

This is a time for prudence, not panic. Science, not stigma.  Facts, not fear.

Even though the situation has been classified as a pandemic, it is one we can control. We can slow down transmissions, prevent infections and save lives.  But that will take unprecedented personal, national and international action.

COVID-19 is our common enemy.  We must declare war on this virus.  That means countries have a responsibility to gear up, step up and scale up.

How?  By implementing effective containment strategies; by activating and enhancing emergency response systems; by dramatically increasing testing capacity and care for patients; by readying hospitals, ensuring they have the space, supplies and needed personnel; and by developing life-saving medical interventions.

All of us have a responsibility, too — to follow medical advice and take simple, practical steps recommended by health authorities.

In addition to being a public health crisis, the virus is infecting the global economy.

Financial markets have been hard hit by the uncertainty.  Global supply chains have been disrupted.  Investment and consumer demand have plunged — with a real and rising risk of a global recession.

United Nations economists estimate that the virus could cost the global economy at least $1 trillion this year – and perhaps far more.

No country can do it alone. More than ever, governments must cooperate to revitalize economies, expand public investment, boost trade, and ensure targeted support for the people and communities most affected by the disease or more vulnerable to the negative economic impacts – including women who often shoulder a disproportionate burden of care work.

A pandemic drives home the essential interconnectedness of our human family.  Preventing the further spread of COVID-19 is a shared responsibility for us all.

The United Nations – including the World Health Organization — is fully mobilized.

As part of our human family, we are working 24/7 with governments, providing international guidance, helping the world take on this threat.

We are in this together – and we will get through this, together.

António Guterres is Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The UN Secretary Generals Message- World Water Day March 22

Water is vital for survival and, alongside sanitation, helps protect public and environmental

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

health. Our bodies, our cities and our industries, our agriculture and our ecosystems all depend on it.

Water is a human right. Nobody should be denied access. This World Water Day is about upholding this right for all, leaving no one behind.

Today, 2.1 billion people live without safe water due to factors such as economic status, gender, ethnicity, religion and age. Growing demands, coupled with poor management, have increased water stress in many parts of the world. Climate change is adding dramatically to the pressure. By 2030, an estimated 700 million people worldwide could be displaced by intense water scarcity.

We must encourage cooperation to tackle the global water crisis and strengthen our resilience to the effects of climate change to ensure access to water for all, especially for the most vulnerable. These are vital steps towards a more peaceful and prosperous future. As we strive to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we must value water resources and ensure their inclusive management if we are to protect and use this vital resource sustainably for the benefit of all people.

Message in other UN official languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish.

The Sustainable Development Goals and a Healthier 2030: Goal 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

By Lauren Barredo, Irene Agyepong, Gordon Liu and Srinath Reddy

Lauren Barredo is Manager, Sustainable Development Solutions Network in New York City. Irene Agyepong is Professor at the School of Public Health, University of Ghana in Accra. Gordon Liu is Director, China Center for Health and Economic Research, Peking University in Beijing. Srinath Reddy is President, Public Health Foundation of India in New Delhi.

Health is fundamental to human development. All people, regardless of social status, consistently rank good health as a top priority,1 and healthy people are critical to sustaining societies. It is therefore not surprising that four of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) directly relate to health.2

Goal 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Goal 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Nonetheless, as with many other global targets, alongside strengths and successes there are also challenges and weaknesses. Progress has been uneven, both within and across countries. Although chronic undernutrition, child and maternal mortality have fallen significantly, there is still much to be done. Public education and rapid diagnostic testing for HIV/ AIDS has reduced the number of new cases, and more effective treatments allow HIV-positive people to live longer. Yet access to treatment needs to become more widespread, new cases need to be prevented, and stigma and discrimination reduced.The MDGs were successful at focusing global attention and resources on specific, pressing world challenges, including hunger, maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS and malaria. These issues were placed at the top of the global agenda, inviting international agencies, Governments, non-governmental organizations and civil society, private firms, and other stakeholders to come together in order to achieve the goals. As a result, extreme poverty fell by half, there has been significant progress in the fight against malaria and tuberculosis, and over 2 billion people gained access to safer drinking water.

The MDGs encouraged specific interventions benefitting subpopulations, namely pregnant women and children under 5 years of age, rather than all people. Some countries, however, sought to improve indicators through investments in their health systems to support the entire population, which resulted in dramatic progress in the health of all people at all ages. Other countries focused interventions on delivering health services largely to pregnant women and young children, and saw fewer improvements in the overall health of the general population. A new agenda is needed to prioritize equity in outcomes, and address health systems in addition to targeting specific diseases.

Further, the global burden of disease has shifted greatly in the past 30 years, increasing the need for a focus on health systems. Non-communicable diseases such as stroke, cancer and diabetes are responsible for a growing share of both mortality and morbidity in both developed and developing countries.3 In fact, rapid economic growth in many developing countries has left them facing a challenging dichotomy; in poorer, more remote areas there is much to be done on the MDGs agenda, while diabetes and heart disease are rising in more affluent cities. Even within households, family dynamics may result in some family members suffering from caloric or micronutrient deficiency, while others are obese. Looking forward, we need a post-2015 agenda that can support countries in addressing all of these issues.

Medical research has shown that health issues once relegated to the back burner play a much larger role in our overall health and well-being. Mental health is one such issue. There is a growing consensus that we need to work more to reduce the stigma of mental illness and offer mental health services to people. Addressing indoor and outdoor air quality, water quality, and other environmental determinants of health is another example. Tackling these issues is critical to safeguarding global health, and needs to play a larger role in the post-2015 agenda.

We therefore recommend a post-2015 development agenda that both reaffirms commitment to the MDGs and expands beyond them to cover new issues that merit urgent global attention. The formulation of SDG 3—ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages—can easily accommodate such a broad agenda. The current text, which includes numerical targets for child and maternal mortality, can revitalize action to complete the MDGs agenda. Targets addressing non-communicable dis- eases, substance abuse, and environmental health will raise global awareness about the importance of these issues and spur progress.

Perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of the current goal is the target on universal health coverage (UHC). This is vulnerable to the critique of being too broad and therefore difficult to attain or to measure. However, ambitious targets are often needed to inspire progress. While the MDGs prioritized specific interventions for pregnant women and children under 5 years of age, UHC promotes healthier lives for all through investment in health systems. There is a growing body of evidence that investments in health systems are key to better health outcomes.4

In brief, UHC strives to ensure that all people have access to needed, quality health services without suffering financial hardship. It supports increased equity in health outcomes, as it allows even the poorest people to afford needed care. It supports taking a life course approach by addressing health issues at all ages. When properly implemented, it meets demands for primary care for all people, and supports promotive, preventive, curative, palliative and rehabilitative services. Finally, UHC can be implemented in such a way as to capitalize on social and environmental determinants of health, including behavioural choices (diets, exercise, air quality, tobacco use, etc.).

A focus on UHC for the next 15 years could be truly transformative for both rich and poor countries. It is vitally important that health improvement accrue to everyone, not just certain groups. Causal analyses from 153 nations show that “broader health coverage generally leads to better access to necessary care and improved population health, with the largest gains accruing to poorer people.”The World Health Report 2010 demonstrated the catastrophic effects of health care costs, with nearly 150 million people worldwide suffering financial hardship and 100 million being pushed below the poverty line as a result of out-of-pocket spending.6 UHC focuses attention and efforts on removing financial barriers to care, working towards universal access, and ensuring that no one forgoes needed treatment due to cost.

Of course, setting global goals and priorities can only go so far. The real test will be how the goals are implemented, and how progress is monitored and evaluated. Given the broad goal of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages, Governments, international organizations, and other actors need to be pragmatic about how to implement policy and monitor progress. Agreement on global goals and targets, as with all policy decisions, will inevitably be a political as well as technical process, even with buy-in by participating stakeholders. The tension between the political and technical has to be managed for goals and targets to become implementable, so that it is possible to track and monitor implementation.

Discussion over what indicators to use and how to finance the SDGs is ongoing. The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN, www.unsdsn.org) has proposed a framework of post-2015 indicators. They need to be clear and straightforward, selected with consensus from a diverse group of stakeholders, and based upon existing data sources. These indicators should measure outcomes as much as possible, and be disaggregated by a wide range of socioeconomic variables (age, gender, urban/rural, etc.) to ensure equal progress. In addition, Governments should support calls for a “data revolution” and move as much as possible towards annual reporting of publicly available data. New technologies such as mobile phones and remote sensing make it increasingly easy to rapidly collect and analyze high-quality data; the post-2015 agenda should take advantage of this.

We have been given an opportunity to establish an ambitious, equitable development agenda for the next 15 years. Global political processes are on track to deliver a meaningful outcome, which could be transformative for global health. As we move towards September 2015, stakeholders must hold Governments accountable to fulfil their promises for a substantial agreement, and begin working together to implement the SDGs.

Notes

1    John Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs, eds., World Happiness Report (New York, Sustainable Development Solutions Network, 2012).

2    Here we count MDGs 1 (poverty and hunger), 4 (child mortality), 5 (maternal health), and 6 (HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and TB).

3    Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), GBD Compare, Seattle, Washington, University of Washington, 2013. Available from http://vizhub.healthdata.org/gbd-compare.

4    World Health Organization, Everybody’s Business: Strengthening Health Systems to Improve Outcomes (Geneva, 2007). Available from http://www.who.int/healthsystems/strategy/everybodys_business.pdf.

5    Rodrigo Moreno-Serra and Peter C. Smith, “Does progress towards universal health coverage improve population health?” The Lancet, vol.

380, no. 9845, (September 2012), pp. 917–923. Available from http://

www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/issue/vol380no9845/pIIS0140-6736(12)X6037-9.

6    World Health Organization, Health Systems Financing: the path to universal coverage. World Health Report 2010 (Geneva, 2010). Available from http://www.who.int/whr/2010/en.

First published in the UN Chronicle, Department of Public Information, United Nations.