WHO Bulletin: COVID-19 and sustainable development goals

3 October, 2020

CITATION: COVID-19 and sustainable development goals

Kristin Heggen et al.

Correspondence to Kristin Heggen (email: k.m.heggen@medisin.uio.no).

Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2020;98:646. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.2471/BLT.20.263533

'We argue that the COVID-19 crisis demonstrates the need to integrate the SDGs at the national level as well as in individual health-care decisions. We also call for a focus on sustainable health decisions, meaning decisions that are made in the present do not compromise future needs, whether local or global. Making such decisions requires adapting to the current context, anticipating future impact, and using a rights-based framework...

The COVID-19 pandemic shows that sustainable development goes beyond national strategies. Every individual needs to make health decisions that meet personal needs as well as the needs of the broader community, such as using facemasks on public transport, observing social distancing advice and self-quarantining when necessary. Such decisions can help to curb transmission and reduce illness, deaths and economic impacts...'

COMMENT (NPW): 'Every individual needs to make health decisions that meet personal needs as well as the needs of the broader community'. Indeed, and this applies not only to decisions during a pandemic, but to *all* health decisions. The fact that most people do not have ready access to the healthcare information they need, or are exposed to dangerous misinformation, or both, is an indictment of the chronic dysfunction of the global healthcare information system. As we wrote in The Lancet back in 2004, 'The system is not working because it is poorly understood, unmanaged, and under-resourced. [We propose] that WHO takes the lead in championing the goal of “Universal access to essential health-care information by 2015” or “Health Information for All”.'

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org