A Healthier Global Health Agenda

On September 25, world leaders will meet in New York at a special UN session to chart a path to a new set of Sustainable Development Goals. While a universal health goal should be included in the new SDG framework, it must address the threat of non-communicable diseases, such as smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.

LONDON – On September 25, world leaders will meet in New York at a special session of the United Nations to chart a path to a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Described as a “generational opportunity,” the potential is indeed great. But indications so far suggest that optimal health goals could be derailed.

The SDGs will succeed the Millennium Development Goals, which were adopted in 2000 and expire in 2015. The MDGs have proved instrumental in galvanizing political will and focusing financial resources on a limited set of basic needs in low- and middle-income countries. The lives of millions of people, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, have been improved.

The SDG framework has been the subject of a year of widespread consultation, lobbying, and debate. Consensus is emerging in a few areas: the new goals should address the unfinished MDGs; they should include not only poverty, but also planetary limits, including climate change; and they should be universal in scope, addressing challenges such as widening inequality in poor and rich countries alike.

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