Geneva, 23 May 2016 (PAHO/WHO) — "The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides an opportunity to speed progress made in the fight against epidemics, as well as in tackling neglected and tropical diseases, and provides a framework for responding to new threats such as Zika", noted the Minister of Health of Argentina, Jorge Lemus, in his address to the 69th World Health Assembly on behalf of the Region of the Americas.
In his remarks read on behalf of the 35 Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) and of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Lemus acknowledged the progress in global health achieved during the last 15 years under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) agenda.
"The Americas saw significant progress in most health-related areas, from infant mortality to communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, but the pending agenda forces us to press on with a renewed commitment", he stated.
In September 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which has important implications for health. The sustainable development goals (SDGs) present an agenda for all countries and cover the economic, social and environmental pillars of development. Health is centrally positioned in the SDGs as a single goal, interacting with many other goals and targets.
The Argentine minister of health highlighted the efforts of the region in coping with the Zika epidemic, but admitted that the need remains to "continue to strengthen national health systems in order to prevent, detect, and respond to outbreaks and other public health emergencies." Lemus called on WHO to continue to assist countries in their response to Zika and other epidemics, as well as in the research and development of a vaccine.
Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all, as well as achieving universal health coverage, as established in SDG 3 and one of its targets respectively, recognizes the synergies with other sectors of society and government to address the social, economic, and environmental determinants of health, the minister noted. Lemus also stressed the involvement of WHO in the SDG indicator framework for the 2030 Agenda and declared that the countries of the Region "expect the continuous leadership of WHO, its involvement and evolution, as well as its collaboration with other agencies, in line with this global agenda."