Ensuring universal health coverage without impoverishment is the foundation for achieving the health objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals – because when people are healthy, their families, communities and countries benefit. Our top priority must be to support national health authorities’ efforts to strengthen all the building blocks of health systems and to enact policies aimed at ensuring health care is equitable and affordable for all.
In today’s interconnected world, public health emergencies can affect anyone, anywhere – and the Ebola crisis in West Africa showed us the dangers of being unprepared. The development of resilient and robust global and local health systems capable of preventing, monitoring, detecting and responding to public health emergencies must therefore be a key priority, closely linked to our efforts to achieve universal health coverage.
We cannot achieve the ambitious health and development targets in the Sustainable Development Goals unless we secure the health, dignity and rights of women, children and adolescents. Yet, in too many places, gender gaps, harmful cultural and social practices and gender-based violence are negatively impacting these individuals. Because of that, we must put the well-being of women, children and adolescents at the centre of global health and development.
Climate and environmental change impact many aspects of life that are inextricably linked to health – food security, economic livelihoods, air safety and water and sanitation systems – and WHO estimates that 12.6 million people die each year as a result of living or working in an unhealthy environment. To address this, WHO has a key role to play advancing both mitigation and adaptation strategies for climate and environmental change, working in close partnership with other UN agencies and stakeholders.
Building WHO into a more effective, transparent and accountable agency will require striking a balance between bold reform and stability of the organization. To meet the evolving needs and challenges of the 21st century and deliver game-changing, sustainable results, WHO will need to focus its work where it has the most value, broaden and intensify its engagement across stakeholders, attract more predictable, flexible financing, and work to identify and retain the best global talent.