The World Health Organization (WHO) is urging leaders meeting at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 78) in New York to put health for all on the highest political agenda and apply lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO’s appeal comes as the world faces multiple humanitarian and climate-related crises which are threatening lives and livelihoods around the world.
WHO’s call to accelerate the achievement of health targets comes ahead of the Sustainable Development Goals Summit (SDG Summit) and an unprecedented number of health-focused high-level meetings at UNGA, aimed at strengthening pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, delivering universal health coverage (UHC) and ending TB.
Progress in reducing infant and maternal mortality has stagnated (in some regions, rates have even increased) and progress in tackling infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria has faltered. Many parts of the world are also seeing rollbacks of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Access to life-saving tools is uneven across the world, with millions unable to afford or obtain needed care. Noncommunicable diseases and mental disorders, which account for over 70% of deaths globally, threaten social and economic development everywhere. Yet new technologies and a renewed commitment to equity and sharing, following the pandemic, are positive developments.