Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched an analysis* of global health trends since 2000 and an assessment of the challenges for the next 15 years.

Some of the global targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for 2000 to 2015 were missed, but WHO highlights successes such as the major declines in child and maternal mortality and progress in the fight against HIV, TB and malaria in developing countries.  The number of people living on less than US$1.25 per day has declined from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015.

Poverty eradication, health as a basic human right, education, food security and nutrition are still priorities in the post-2015 framework and there are many linkages and cross-cutting themes in the 17 goals and 169 targets with economic, social and environmental objectives. 

The fight against poverty and hunger must continue. There is recognition in the new goals that eradicating poverty and inequality, creating inclusive economic growth and preserving the planet are inextricably linked.

Almost all of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2016 to 2030 are directly related to health or will contribute indirectly.  There is a new focus on the achievement of universal health coverage:

“Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential healthcare services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.” Target 3.8

Access to information and services to promote health, and protection from high costs in illness, can contribute to poverty reduction.  It is often the rural poor who are denied access to adequate healthcare. 

The SDGs are based on the concept of “leaving no one behind”. This specifically includes a target to end neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and other communicable diseases.  Tackling NTDs, which are endemic in 149 countries, would reduce disability and chronic illness.  This latest report stresses the need for early recognition of disease and an increase in health- and treatment-seeking behaviour.

There has been progress in the detection and treatment of tuberculosis, but still only 54% of new TB cases are detected and cured.  Multi-drug resistant TB is a major challenge and more effective treatment plans are urgently needed.

For all infectious diseases, the targeted reductions by 2030 are much higher than the achievements since 2000.

*”Health in 2015: From MDGs to SDGs”  launched 8th December 2015