How is health linked to development?

Over the weekend I will be making my way to Botswana to participate in the global thematic consultation on health in the post 2015 development agenda. This meeting brings together civil society, academia, private sector, youth representatives, governments, heads of international health and development agencies as well as members of the UN High Level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda. We will be tasked to consider the input and submissions from people and organisations from all over the world and ultimately make a recommendation to the UN Secretary General on how health should be prioritized in the next chapter of global development.

Post 2015 development agenda

I would love to hear your thoughts as I prepare to chair a discussion in Botswana on how does health fit in the 2015 development agenda?

We live in a world burdened with increasingly diverse and complex development challenges. As we begin the task of crafting a framework to respond to these challenges, the post-2015 agenda presents an opportunity to rethink what makes development that is inclusive, innovative and applicable to all people. It provides us with a platform to introduce new ways of delivering smart development.

A healthy population is a prerequisite for development. A child, who is borderline nourished, will tip into frank malnutrition if they contract an infectious disease such as measles. Evidence also demonstrates that minimising the burden of illness through health interventions such as immunisation will positively affect a child’s ability to attend school and attain high education levels.

Concurrently, development has a bearing on health. Approximately 25% of the global disease burden is due to modifiable environmental factors. Related effects of unsustainable development, notably outdoor and indoor air pollution are now major causes of global ill health. The greatest burden falls on the poorest population, women and children.

Development is surely about improving people’s lives. A population cannot progress if it is burdened with ill-health. Good health is the foundation on which communities and nations can and do flourish.

Addressing health in isolation of other development challenges such as environment, education and economic growth will diminish our chances of ensuring sustainable change. How can we clearly articulate and support the synergies between health and the other sectors? How can we devise shared solutions to drive people-centred, inclusive development?

What’s your view? Please leave a comment below.

10 responses to “How is health linked to development?”

  1. sethberkley says :

    Thank you for sharing your views.

    The two-day discussions kicked off well with a breakfast meeting, where, among other things, the GAVI model was discussed as an effective development agent.

    As you may be aware GAVI is advocating for the post 2015 development agenda to recognize the role of, and call for, innovative development models to partner with countries to deliver sustainable results.

    Overall, at the conclusion of the high-level meeting, it was great to see general agreement on establishing an overarching goal that would reflect the multifaceted nature of health and the importance of including nutrition, water, education, and the environment in the equation. We also discussed possible specific health goals around continuing progress on the current MDGs, and for emerging issues like NCDs.

    A message I took away is that we need to be more explicit in linking the role of health in reducing poverty in our advocacy efforts. Quite an obvious link for many but we need to be better at communicating this. Your comments do reflect the challenge ahead.. how do we secure our investments in health under the current MDG framework yet draw the world’s attention to neglected health concerns?

    I believe there was an overwhelming consensus at the meeting on the need to continue the focus on the current health MDG’s. The issue of equity is very close to my heart Diarmuid and something we strive to achieve in the immunisation world on a daily basis. I believe we had many like minds around the table echoing the centrality of equity to this debate. Many of you refer to issues of sustainability and accountability. I believe a lesson learned from the current MDG framework is to ensure our actions are sustainable and we, governments and partners alike, are held accountable for our actions.

    This conversation is far from over, the UN Secretary General’s report to the member states in September on the post 2015 development agenda is “the end of the beginning”.

  2. Adele Sulcas says :

    Thanks, Seth, for posing these poignant and fundamental questions. Of course demonstrating – and measuring- the relationship
    between health and development is critical in the post-2015
    development agenda. But is it not also essential that global leaders
    articulate that working only within this framework is not the panacea for the totality of global woes? All of us dedicated to public health need to be clear that the post-2015 development agenda pinpoints areas
    of health and development that require critical attention – yet this
    framework cannot, and should not, enumerate the laundry list of broader developmental challenges. Let us focus on the areas that have the best public health impact.

  3. Ruth says :

    We have made fantastic progress to reduce under 5 mortality since 2000, with vaccination + campaigns playing a lead role, spearheaded by GAVI Alliance partners. To make greater gains post 2015, we must make a deeper dive into the social determinants of health which have kept too many families beyond our reach. Great lessons to be learned from the WatSan community which is combining marketing know how, anthropology, community mapping etc. to change deeply entrenched attitudes and behavior.

  4. Yul Dorotheo says :

    A healthy nation is a wealthy nation. Unfortunately, the wealth of corporations and the perceived benefits of free trade and foreign investment are often seen by governments as more important than the public health impacts of economic decisions. The UN’s political declaration on NCDs is a step in the right direction but needs to be followed up by concrete actions that are supported by whole governments and not just their health ministries. This is particularly obvious when addressing risk factors such as tobacco, alcohol, and unhealthy foods, where other sectors (trade, security, education, agriculture, etc) need to collaborate in the regulation of these products.

  5. Alberto Colorado says :

    We all know the value of migration in social and economic development. If we are looking at the goal of Universal Health Coverage, this coverage must include migrants and mobile population.

  6. Alberto Colorado says :

    Tuberculosis (TB) is a good indicator of countries health and social development. Currently TB is inside of MDG number 6 under “other diseases”.
    TB is an unfinished business that needs to continue as world priority. TB kills more than one person every 25 seconds. In 2011, 8.7 million people fell sick of TB and 1.4 million died of this disease. TB costs the global economy $13 billion a year thru lost of productivity. TB is among the top three causes of death for women aged 15 to 44 – the most economically productive years of a person’s life. TB is a leading cause of illness and death among children under the age of five. The targets we want for the Post 2015 Development goals are: Zero new TB infections, Zero TB deaths, Zero TB suffering and Zero TB stigma and discrimination. Thank you. Alberto Colorado

  7. Remi says :

    Personally, I look at it in the reverse. This is how it goes: Prosperity includes increased productivity, job creation and higher income generation for all. However, wIthout appropriate skills (through acquisition of marketable skills in schools) the youth will NOT be employable and enjoy higher incomes when jobs are created through massive investments from overseas. So, education is very important. Finally, without being healthy, these youth will not be able to attend schools to acquire the needed knowledge and skills to work in the new job market economy that will be created. Thus, there will be no prosperity for all. Bottom line, invest in health of the youth (including sexual and reproductive health) so that they can go to school and then work so that prosperity can flow from the household to community and of course to the national level.

  8. Alberto Colorado says :

    Development without health is like the fish out the water. No health, no development. Alberto

  9. Diarmuid McClean, Irish Aid says :

    The drums will beat for equity and inclusion, and what new thoughts we might have to have to properly address inequity within countries. This will seem to be a rights issue and could be carried away by this as a theme. Public health perpsectives must drive the post 2015 ambitions for health. There must be some concern and caution for the one idea for all. We still have no example of poorer people benefiting from the incoming tide. Put together with richer stakeholders that have a vested interest, the vulnerable are in real danger of remaining the poor cousins.
    Diarmuid

    • Mark Chataway says :

      Diarmuid is right: we have lots of examples of increasingly-prosperous countries that are unwilling to invest their own money in health. Most worrying of all, vibrant democracies such as Brazil and India are skimping on spending on public health. There is a real danger that health will be lost in a set of post-2015 objectives which prioritise economic development. *THESE VIEWS ARE PERSONAL AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF MY EMPLOYER OR OUR CLIENTS*

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