The Delhi Commitment on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for Health released

The Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare and Minister of State (Independent Charge), AYUSH, Mr Shripad Naik released the ‘The Delhi Commitment on Sustainable Development Goal for Health’, at the conclusion of the two-day National Consultation on Transitioning from MDGs to SDGs, organized by the WHO Country Office for India in collaboration with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) at New Delhi on 10-11 May 2016.

Senior health officials from nearly all states and union territories of India participated in the national consultation. They expressed their commitment to work collaboratively towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal-3: "Ensure healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages" by 2030.

Releasing the ‘Delhi Commitment on Sustainable Development Goal for Health’, Mr Naik said, “Let the commitment that we all affirmed today serve as a constant reminder and guide as we venture to achieve the SDGs.”

Elaborating further, Mr Naik said, “SDG 3 is also inextricably linked to many other SDGs indicating that symbiotic convergence will be required with all sectors that impact health to jointly undertake support and advocacy to build a shared vision. We all need to work as Team India. Union and state governments have to work as a team, all departments have to work as a team and experts. Civil society and private sector also have to work as a team to meet the common goals of SDG,” he added.

The key objectives of the meeting were to discuss the Sustainable Development Agenda and the role of health; orient and consult all major national and state-level stakeholders on adoption and implementation of SDG-3; policy options for implementing the Health SDG in India; and strengthening the health systems response.

Speaking at the consultation, Dr Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative to India and Chair UN Health Group-India said, “The health goal aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all in all ages and also that no one is left behind. Universal Health Coverage, which is an explicit target under SDG-3, can act as the overarching umbrella to guide the targets under SDG for health.”

In his remarks, Dr Henk Bekedam shared five recommendations for progressing towards Health related Sustainable Development Goals: (i) health must be high on the national and state agenda, and government health expenditure needs to be increased; (ii) build on the National Health Mission, invest in public health and scale-up the effective interventions; (iii) build robust health delivery system in all aspects, especially strengthen the health infrastructure and Human Resources for Health in rural areas where 70% of India resides; (iv) accelerate the implementation of Universal Health Coverage; and (v) ensure that there is a strong monitoring and evaluation system.

Speaking at the concluding session, Mr Yuri Afanasiev, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in India said that SDGs are multidimensional and complex and aim to address health problems, which are interconnected and interlinked between different sectors. He also urged the need to double the health budget.

It emerged from the deliberations that in aiming towards a more transformational and ambitious agenda, the key to success will be striking the right balance between the unfinished agenda of tackling the burden of maternal and childhood mortality, while bringing to the forefront equally important issues of noncommunicable diseases and environmental hazards, strengthening health systems and striving towards Universal Health Coverage so that no-one is left behind.

There was a broad consensus that a national framework for implementation and monitoring and evaluation of health goal needs to be developed. This will then be adopted or adapted by the states for effective rollout and implementation of strategies to achieve the SDG-3 targets.

The consultation saw remarkable active participation from over forty institutions and agencies as well as senior national and state level officials, representatives of key ministries including, NITI Aayog, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD), Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Ministry of Urban Development, Department of School Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and, UNICEF, UNFPA and other UN agencies, development partners, academia and other stakeholders.

About Sustainable Development Goals and SDG-3

In 2015, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) came to the end of their term and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), took their place.

The SDG health goal (SDG-3) aims to ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’ and is underpinned by a set of 13 broad targets that cover a wide spectrum of health aspects that can be broadly placed into three categories: the unfinished and expanded MDG agenda, the new SDG-3 targets and the means of implementation, with UHC being the overarching umbrella. All the UN Member States, including India have committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) between 2016 and 2030.