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In 2015, countries adopted the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), each of which has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. The SDGs include one health goal and over 50 health-related targets which are applicable to all countries, irrespective of their level of development. It is essential that we track progress towards these targets in all countries – a mammoth task in itself.
One of the key roles of the World Health Organization (WHO) is to monitor global health trends. The World Health Statistics series, published annually since 2005, is WHO’s annual snapshot of the state of the world’s health. Since 2016, the World Health Statistics series has focused on monitoring progress towards the SDGs and this 2018 edition contains the latest available data for 36 health-related SDG indicators.
The story it tells is that while we have made remarkable progress on several fronts, huge challenges remain if we are to reach the targets for health we have set ourselves. In some areas progress has stalled and the gains we have made could easily be lost.
Under-five mortality has improved dramatically – yet each and every day in 2016, 15 000 children died before reaching their fifth birthday. After unprecedented global gains in malaria control, progress has stalled because of a range of challenges, including a lack of sustainable and predictable funding. And while the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes or cancer has decreased since 2000, an estimated 13 million people under the age of 70 still died due to these diseases in 2016. Maintaining the momentum towards the SDGs is only possible if countries have the political will and the capacity to prioritize regular, timely and reliable data collection to guide policy decisions and public health interventions.
I care about outcomes and about accountability and I want to ensure that WHO, together with our partners, is doing all we can to get countries on track to reach the SDGs. The WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work is designed to do exactly that. At its heart are the ambitious “triple billion” targets: one billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage (UHC); one billion more people  better protected from health emergencies; and one billion more people enjoying better health and well-being.
To keep ourselves accountable, we have developed an “Impact Framework” for the 13th General Programme of Work, aligned with the SDGs. This will allow us to measure the only progress that really matters: less death and disease, and more healthy living for everyone, everywhere.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
World Health Organization
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