Thank you Germany and the WHO for co-hosting this important event. And a thank you also to the many partner organizations for all their participation and support.
The Global Acton plan for healthy lives and well-being for all, is a great example on how countries and agencies can work together to accelerate the progress on the over 50 health related SDG targets. An important element of the plan is taking stock of where we are. Not surprisingly, some of the biggest gaps between our ambitions and the current status are on the targets that require action across sectors.
Despite great progress, the uncomfortable truth is that far too many die, and especially women and children, every year due to causes that are preventable. Tens of millions of people still lack access basic health services or life-saving medicine. We can do something about this!
Health and investment in health, is a fundamental part of the 2030-agenda. Healthy lives and well-being is a cross-cutting topic for several of the SDGs, and the health of the populations is essential for further development.
In order to make a leap forward and close the gap between our common objectives and current status, we need to acknowledge the intersectionality of all the SDGs. Progress on one goal will create progress on others.
Health is perhaps the clearest example of this. It is critical that we keep investing in access to universal health coverage. Improving both access and quality of health services has a direct impact on poverty reduction, gender inequality, education, and the list goes on.
The links are particularly clear between health and education objectives. Take the example of girls’ education. Educated girls have both fewer and healthier children, and are more likely to send their children to school. In this way, children are in a better position to make a living for themselves and to contribute to the social and economic development in their country. The analysis is really quite simple and clear: Health is fundamental for the development of our societies.
The global action plan addresses these interlinkages in a straight forward manner. But the plan will only be effective if countries take ownership in its implementation. This includes increasing domestic resources to invest in access to health.
ODA remains an important tool. Norway is a consistent partner and committed to maintaining a high level, exceeding the 1% target of GNI allocated to ODA. Our objective is to make ODA catalytic so it can unleash new forms of finance, especially from the private sector.
The Global Financing Facility (GFF) is essential in this regard. The GFF is an innovative financing mechanism supporting country ownership, and aiming to stimulate and attract private and public financial contributions. A recent study showed that USD2.6 billion from the GFF can mobilize between USD50 and USD75 billion from other sources. This, in turn, could help to save 35 million women’s and children’s lives by 2030.
Health is the building block of any well-functioning society. We still have the opportunity to make sure that we reach the goals in the 2030-Agenda. But it will take time and we need to get our act together!
Finally, we are looking forward to the high-level meeting in September on Universal Health Coverage. It will be an important stepping-stone in upscaling political attention, garnering innovative solutions, and for highlighting the significance of investments in universal access to health. I look forward to all countries’ and stakeholders’ active engagement in the negotiations and that we use the occasion to make great strides to achieve our common objectives. We cannot afford to fail.
I look forward to the presentations and debate here today.