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Photo: UNDP

London, 4 May 2018 – While real progress has been made on a number of serious health issues, half of the world’s citizens lack access to essential health services.

Today, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) signed a five year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to help support countries to achieve the health-related targets across the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the agenda’s commitment to leave no one behind.

“Universal health coverage is a powerful tool not only for better health, but for reducing poverty, creating jobs, fueling inclusive economic growth and promoting gender equality,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “But achieving a healthier world is not a job for the health sector alone. By working with partners like UNDP, we can better address the social, economic and environmental determinants of health and make progress towards a fairer, safer and more prosperous future for everyone.”

In line with WHO’s leadership on universal health coverage, UNDP and WHO will support countries to strengthen the capacity of their health systems, including by addressing the social, economic and environmental determinants of health. The partnership will also address emerging issues such as antimicrobial resistance (AMR), one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today. It is estimated that the annual death toll due to AMR could climb to 10 million deaths and result in US$ 100 trillion in losses by 2050 if nothing is done. Other priority areas include acting decisively on health emergencies, ensuring delivery of essential health services in fragile, vulnerable and conflict-affected settings and addressing health challenges arising from climate change and environmental problems.

“Health plays a central role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and is both a precondition and an outcome of sustainable development,” said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator. “In recognition of this critical role, the health and development agencies of the United Nations are taking this deliberate step to join forces and combine our expertise to address the social, environmental, and economic factors affecting the health of all.”

The 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) reinforce the strong linkages between health and development. The partnership between WHO and UNDP illustrates how the core competencies of the UN health and development agencies can come together to support multi-sectoral responses for health and deliver shared gains across the 2030 Agenda.

For media queries:

UNDP - Sangita Khadka, Communications Specialist, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, New York. Email: sangita.khadka@undp.org, Tel.: +1 212 906 5043

WHO - Fadéla Chaib, Coordinator a.i, Media, Social Media & Monitoring, WHO Department of Communications, Geneva. Email: chaibf@who.int, Tel.: + 41 22 791 3228

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