Twenty-five speakers, including Ministers and senior officials from Member States, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Principals of the signatory agencies, participated in an online launch event to release the first progress report of Stronger Collaboration, Better Health: The Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All (GAP), following the launch of the GAP at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2019.
This marks a strong engagement towards the implementation of GAP and an important step towards accelerating country progress on the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Following the opening remarks by the WHO Director-General, key statements were made by the principals of signatory agencies at the event including:
- Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF
- Peter Sands, Executive Director of The Global Fund
- Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS
- Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
- Dr Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
- Dr Muhammad Pate, Director of the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents and Senior Director of Health and Nutrition at the World Bank
- Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women
- Dr Philippe Duneton, Executive Director a.i. of Unitaid
- Amir Abdulla, Deputy Executive Director of World Food Programme
In the face of the many challenges that countries face from the COVID-19 pandemic, our shared vision of coherent and coordinated support from the multilateral system is more important than ever. Strong, sustained leadership and the support of Member States and partners are critical to achieving this ambitious goal.
The SDG3 GAP progress report presents early evidence of progress achieved and challenges faced during “learning-by-doing-approach” and covers the first 8 months of implementation since its launch and outlines progress made by partner agencies in moving from the key commitments made in the GAP – Engage, Accelerate, Align, Account – to action.
Building on existing collaborations, the agencies are committed to leveraging the Global Action Plan to fill in gaps and add value to existing global, regional and national coordination mechanisms in the response to help countries protect health gains achieved so far, recover from COVID-19 pandemic with more resilient health systems and continue efforts towards achieving of the SDGs.
The report also captures and highlights case studies from five countries and some of the challenges encountered to date, such as the need to further institutionalize the GAP approach to collaboration among the agencies.
Interventions from Member States
Minister of Public Health of Afghanistan, Hon. Dr Ahmad Jawad Osmani
Afghanistan in the last 2 decades has witnessed significant gains in health outcomes by improving access to health services. Equity and social justice were the guiding principles. In today’s Afghanistan, we are facing an increasing burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases. A majority of women are dying from both maternal and non-maternal related causes. Although more children now are celebrating their 5th birthday, many are critically malnourished. And this year, Afghanistan has the highest number of polio cases. My team and I are working to increase the resilience of our health system and incorporate lessons learned from the pandemic response to meet the needs of the people. Primary health care is the backbone of an essential, responsive and resilient health system and my team is working to improving the implementation of primary healthcare services.
Federal Minister of Health of Germany, Hon. Mr Jens Spahn
Germany very much appreciates the leading role of the WHO within the Global Action Plan and throughout its first implementation phase. This plan is a remarkable example of multilateral cooperation. However, the current pandemic is threatening hard-won improvements towards reaching SDG 3 and could set us back by years. Thus, the Global Action Plan is more important than ever in order to bundle our efforts and face this challenge together. Lessons learned from the first phase of the Global Action Plan can be used to adjust and further support its objectives. The progress report reflects the strong collaboration and coordination of the 12 signatory agencies to support short, medium- and long-term actions in response to COVID-19. Germany is convinced that the Global Action Plan will play an important role in achieving progress towards the health-related SDGs. It also signals strong support of the WHO and other Global Action Plan partners in this joint commitment.
Minister of Health of Ghana, Hon. Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu
Ghana is strongly committed to universal health coverage as evidence in the ambitious UHC roadmap that we have prepared to guide our journey towards our UHC goals. Expanding our positive approach to primary health care and strengthening our national health insurance scheme are key pullers of these efforts. Funding is key to our success, hence the need to mobilize new resources for health. The GAP play a key role as we look to operationalize, fund our UHC roadmap and update our health finances strategy. The GAP brings in the coherence, coordination and collaboration that we need and expect from the multilateral system. As we tackle the immediate crisis of COVID-19, the Global Action Plan is critical to ensuring that we do not lose track of our journey towards health-related Sustainable Development Goals.
Minister of Health of Norway, Hon. Mr Bent Høie
With today’s launch of the progress report, we are reminded that the deadline for the SDGs is only ten years away. The Global Action Plan is more important than ever. The message today is clear: we must step up action on the targets where we are furthest behind. We must remain focused on this important instrument for working together to ensure healthy lives and well-being for all. Building strong primary health care systems that include everyone, is absolutely crucial. Not only for the individual person or a country's preparedness, but also for the world's security. Because no-one is safe until everyone is safe. Norway remains a consistent partner for our common future. We are determined to continue working with others to ensure health for all by 2030. The Global Action Plan is the much-needed tool that will help us get there. We will leave no one behind.
Minister of Health and Social Protection of Somalia, Hon. Ms Fawziya Abikar Nur
I am representing Somalia today, a country which has suffered and is continuing to suffer from protracted crises and complex humanitarian emergencies. The profound effects of these crises have weakened and fragmented our health systems, creating a huge loss of human capital and these have been reflected in our health indicators such as high maternal and child deaths, low immunization coverage and depleted access to healthcare. As we recover from COVID-19 and rebuilt our system, I urge our development partners especially the GAP signatories to understand more than ever our local context, health priorities, and the value of having a strong collaborative and cohesive partnership that’s led by the government. And the shared responsibility and commitment to monitor and evaluate the result of financing in the health sector. More than ever, we need to act together and push for universal health coverage using evidence and data on what works in fragile and vulnerable settings and what are the low cost but high impact interventions. We need to rebuild our systems and ensure services are accessible, affordable and equitable to all.