News

Health is Key for Sustainable Development

24 January 2013
Author: UNFPA
Bill Gates, UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin and Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg discussing the future of global health in Oslo. Photo: Per Thrana

OSLO — World leaders called for accelerating efforts to save the lives of women and children in the coming decade at a high-level meeting that discussed perspectives and results on progress in global health.

The leaders reaffirmed the principle that global health – especially maternal and child health – is a prerequisite for achieving the Millenium Development Goals and sustainable development. As such, it needs to be reflected prominently in the discussion around the Millenium Development Goals on the debate about post-2015 priorities.

“Ill health is both a consequence and a cause of poverty. Every year, 100 million people are pushed into poverty by health-related costs,” said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA. “Those who cannot afford to pay for essential health services are aggravating pre-existing sickness. Poor health of young people limits school attendance, thereby preventing them from reaching their potential and escaping poverty.

American business magnate and philanthropist Bill Gates, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and the Executive Director of UNFPA identified international support and collaboration among different sectors, including private-public partnerships, as essential building blocks for continued advances in global health.

“We are not where we ought to be, but we have come far. We have saved five million lives each year. This shows that international support matters, that it is possible to make a difference,” said Mr. Stoltenberg.

“From the year 2000 until today, we have reduced child and maternal mortality faster than ever before. Why? I think the collaboration between private and public sectors has been decisive for this success. In addition, we see that developing countries themselves take much more responsibility than before. It is a good partnership,” said Mr. Gates.

During his short visit to Olso, the UNFPA Executive Director also met with Heikki Holmås, the country’s Minister of International Development, as well as key members of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Norwegian Parliament.

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