We've only got 10 years left. And no, I'm not talking about climate change.

With only 10 years left until the 2030 deadline on the Sustainable Development Goals, we are working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and others on a global action plan to ensure healthy lives and well-being for all. Alex Harris explains how.

Illustration depicting people around the globe
Credit: Wellcome

Alex Harris

Alex Harris

The pressure is on. We’ve only got 10 years left and we need a plan. I know, you’re thinking climate change. But I’m talking about health and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Introduced in 2015, the SDGs are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations. They ambitiously describe the world we’d like to inhabit in 2030 and provide targets and indicators to help us know if we have succeeded. But they don’t provide a plan for how we’ll collectively get there.

In health, this is changing. There’s a plan emerging, and we’d like to hear what you think. 

A Global Action Plan

Recognising that we are not on target to achieve many of the SDGs by 2030, the leaders of Germany, Ghana and Norway called for a roadmap to ensure healthy lives and well-being for all. In response, last October the Global Action Plan was born, supported by 12 global health organisations who agree that in the next decade we must deliver.

Many of the greatest challenges in health need research, innovation and access if they’re to be addressed and the Global Action Plan identified these as one of the seven areas in health that have the potential to accelerate progress. 

For the past six months we’ve been working with others from across the global health community to work out we need to do – the result of which is five simple but challenging actions.

Five actions for a 'decade of delivery'

  • Create new country-led forums to translate research and innovation priorities into accelerated attainment of health-related SDG goals
  • Establish and maintain a new annual global forum to review, update and advance the late stage pipeline of the critical medical and health products including diagnostics, medicines, vaccines and vector control.
  • WHO to curate an evidence-based list of existing innovations that could be scaled.
  • Governments and international funders should explore opportunities for co-funding to help drive a shift in the centre of gravity of decision making to countries and regions.
  • Develop Global Good Access Practices for Innovation in Health.

They’re not perfect. They’re certainly not a list of the only things we need to do in this area. And they might not be tough enough for some. But they’re grounded in what we’ve heard, and reflect the themes that came through months of spending time with stakeholders around the world and across the health sector, from civil society and national governments, to academia, innovators, and research funders.

We want to know what you think

The draft actions for Research, Innovation and Access (together with the entire Global Action Plan) are now live on the WHO website and are open for comment until 23:59 CET, 30 June 2019. Email SDG3_Secretariat@who.int.

For more detailed feedback, you can contact w.hall@wellcome.org.

In many ways, the easy part is writing the plan. Delivering the plan will be the real challenge. It has the potential to have a huge impact on the health of millions of people. But it will require civil society, local communities, government and the private sector to be ambitious, and work together to follow through on their commitments.

All eyes will be on New York this September where the Global Action Plan will be formally launched at the UN General Assembly. For the health of millions around the world, we must make this a decade of delivery.

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