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Health is a fundamental human right. 70 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

​Health is a fundamental human right. 70 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

On December 10, 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO) outlines the “…highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being.” The emphasis upon human rights was taken up in the recently adopted agendas for Sustainable Development and Universal Health Coverage, which echo the principle that a rights-based approach to health requires that health policies and programmes prioritize the needs of those left behind to achieve greater equity.

In the last few years, there has been a rising a number of global and national initiatives, which explicitly incorporate human rights into public health practice. Yet measurement of outcomes has been challenging. In a recently published article, Gruskin et al., together with an expert advisory group composed of representatives from WHO, international organizations, ministries of health, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and lawyers developed an analytical framework for human rights principles using family planning indicators as an illustrative example. They analysed public health indicators used in the monitoring and evaluation of contraceptive programmes and their sensitivity to human rights. The set of indicators they identified comprised a mix of quantitative, qualitative and policy-level indicators. The authors conclude however, that standardized methods to effectively measure human rights in public health require greater breadth and depth in order to ensure that no one is left behind.

The full article published in PLoS One online on December 8, 2017, A novel methodology for strengthening human rights based monitoring in public health: Family planning indicators as an illustrative example, by Sofia Gruskin, Laura Ferguson, Shubha Kumar et al. and can be accessed here.

Additional sources on the human rights and health are provided in the WHO Factsheet, updated in December 2017 that can be accessed here.

21/12/2017 14:42
World Malaria Report: Global response to malaria at crossroads

​World Malaria Report: Global response to malaria at crossroads

After unprecedented global success in malaria control, progress has stalled, according to the World malaria report 2017. There were an estimated 5 million more malaria cases in 2016 than in 2015. Malaria deaths stood at around445 000, a similar number to the previous year.

“In recent years, we have made major gains in the fight against malaria,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “We are now at a turning point. Without urgent action, we risk going backwards, and missing the global malaria targets for 2020 and beyond.”

The WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria calls for reductions of at least 40% in malaria case incidence and mortality rates by the year 2020. According to WHO’s latest malaria report, the world is not on track to reach these critical milestones.

A major problem is insufficient funding at both domestic and international levels, resulting in major gaps in coverage of insecticide-treated nets, medicines, and other life-saving tools.
Funding shortage
An estimated US$ 2.7 billion was invested in malaria control and elimination efforts globally in 2016.  That is well below the US $6.5 billion annual investment required by 2020 to meet the 2030 targets of the WHO global malaria strategy.
In 2016, governments of endemic countries provided US$ 800 million, representing 31% of total funding.  The United States of America was the largest international funder of malaria control programmes in 2016, providing US$1 billion (38% of all malaria funding), followed by other major donors, including the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, France, Germany and Japan.
The global figures

The report shows that, in 2016, there were an estimated 216 million cases of malaria in 91 countries, up from 211 million cases in 2015.  The estimated global tally of malaria deaths reached 445 000 in 2016 compared to 446 000 the previous year.

While the rate of new cases of malaria had fallen overall, since 2014 the trend has levelled off and even reversed in some regions. Malaria mortality rates followed a similar pattern.

The African Region continues to bear an estimated 90% of all malaria cases and deaths worldwide. Fifteen countries – all but one in sub-Saharan Africa – carry 80% of the global malaria burden.

“Clearly, if we are to get the global malaria response back on track, supporting the most heavily affected countries in the African Region must be the primary focus,” said Dr Tedros.
Click here for the full article.

02/12/2017 15:08
World AIDS Day 2017: My Health, My Right

​World AIDS Day 2017: My Health, My Right

World AIDS Day 2017: My Health, My Right
Every December 1st World AIDS Day is widely commemorated. It has become one of the most recognized international health days, usually celebrated under one global theme that individual countries can choose to interpret the theme in their own way.

World AIDS Day (WAD) is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic, to show solidarity with people living with HIV, as well as to commemorate those who have died from AIDS-related illness. Word Health Organization and the United Nations General Assembly launched the first WAD in 1988. Since then, it has become one of the most successful memorial days where activists, people living with HIV, global, as well as local institutions and concerned individuals all join together in solidarity.

This year’s WAD campaign, led by UNAIDS, focuses on the right to health. “All people, regardless of their age, gender, where they live or who they love, have the right to health,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “No matter what their health needs are, everyone requires health solutions that are available and accessible, free from discrimination and of good quality.” You can read more on this dedicated UNAIDS website.

Key messages of the campaign are:

  • Too many people around the world are being denied their right to health, and people living with HIV are particularly affected

  • Only by placing rights at the centre of global health can quality health care be available and accessible for everyone, leaving no one behind.

  • Social media have become some of the most popular campaign channels to increase awareness of the need to achieve full realization of the right to health of everyone, everywhere. You can join the campaign on Twitter (#myrighttohealth) and on Facebook you can join the conversation and post what “My health, my right” means to you and you feel we can ensure that everyone can realize that right.

    The campaign by UNAIDS can be accessed here and campaign materials can be found here.

    29/11/2017 18:56
    The persistent gender gap in adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights

    ​The persistent gender gap in adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights

    The 2017 World Population Data Sheets highlight that young women aged 15-19 accounted for two-thirds of the newly HIV infected youth globally. Gender-based violence, together with unequal access to secondary school and economic opportunities hinder young women and girls to become independent, which is linked to negotiating safer sexual practices and better access to family planning , as well as prevention and treatment services. The data sheets can be accessed here.

    The UNFPA flagship report State of the World Population 2017, which can be accessed here emphasizes how gender inequalities obstruct women from living their lives on an equal footing with men. The report highlights that many women and girls do not have access to sexual and reproductive health services, which means they face difficulties in accessing both family planning as well as maternal services.

    In the report A familiar face: violence in the lives of children and adolescents, UNICEF reveals that violence starts early for many children around the world. As girls and boys move through adolescence, they begin to spend increasing amounts of time in expanding social environments beyond their immediate families, interacting with a wider array of people. This widening of the social world, while beneficial in many aspects, also creates situations in which young people may be exposed to violence. The UNICEF report which can be accessed here shows that as children enter the second decade of their lives, the mortality rate from violence more than doubles that of their first 10 years of life.

    The first findings from the Global Early Adolescent Study were published in the Special Supplement of the Journal of Adolescent Health in October 2017 and can be accessed here This comprises articles that explore the constellation of factors that shape adolescence and highlights the need for gender and socio-cultural issues to be mainstreamed across all interventions, to achieve better health outcomes for adolescent girls. 

    22/11/2017 15:21
    Health Systems Strengthening

    ​Together on the road to universal health coverage: A call to action by WHO

    At least 400 million people have no access to basic health services, and 40 % of the world’s population lacks social protection. These factors combined mean that the majority of the very poorest in the world cannot afford adequate health care and those that do, may be pushed further into poverty by the costs of accessing their basic health needs. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the new Director General of WHO, promises that WHO will catalyse engagement and advocacy with global, regional, and national stakeholders. His call to action specifies that:

    • All countries must make universal health coverage a political priority

    • Each country should use available evidence and tools to determine its own path towards universal health coverage

    • Countries should ensure that universal health coverage meets the needs and aspiration of its people, with their participation.

    The UHC concept is that all people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of adequate quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose users to financial hardship. UHC is pivotal to achieving better health and well-being for all people at all ages and ensures that poorer individuals, families and communities are not driven into poverty because of the costs of health care.

    Dr. Tedros’ call to action: Together on the road to universal health coverage: a call to action. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2017 (WHO/HIS/HGF/17.1) can be accessed here.

    15/11/2017 14:45
    Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health

    ​Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health

    The long-awaited Report of the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health has been published in October revealing pollution's severe and underreported contribution to the Global Burden of Disease. In fact, pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and death in the world today, responsible for an estimated 9 million premature deaths. Besides the health burden the Lancet Commission on pollution and health addresses the full health and economic costs of air, water, and soil pollution and uncovers the economic costs of pollution to low-income and middle-income countries particularly.

    Some main results:

    • Pollution causes 16% of deaths globally. Diseases caused by pollution were responsible in 2015 for an estimated 9 million premature deaths - 16% of all deaths worldwide – three times more deaths than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined; and fifteen times more than all wars and other forms of violence. It kills more people than smoking, hunger and natural   disasters. In some countries, it accounts for one in four deaths.

    • The health impacts from many pollutants are completely unquantified because of insufficient data collection and scientific research.

    • Pollution disproportionately kills the poor and the vulnerable. Nearly 92% of pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

    • Pollution is neglected.

    • The cost of inaction is high, while solutions can yield economic gains.

    • Pollution control will advance the Sustainable Development Goals.

    • We can fix this. Proven, cost-effective solutions exist and pay high returns on investment.

    06/11/2017 09:24
    Launch of the Global Roadmap to 2030 to #endcholera on October 4, 2017

    ​Launch of the Global Roadmap to 2030 to #endcholera on October 4, 2017

    On 4 October 2017, partners of the Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC), officials from cholera-affected countries, and key global health donors convened to officially launch Ending Cholera: A Global Roadmap to 2030, a renewed strategy for cholera control that aims to reduce cholera deaths by 90 percent by 2030. 

    The Mérieux Foundation hosted the event at its Center for Global Health in Veyrier-du-Lac, France. The meeting brought together over 100 participants including officials from the health and water ministries of 10 cholera-affected countries, as well as leaders from Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, WHO, UNICEF, IFRC, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, WaterAid, icddr’b, representatives from nine key donors, private sector and 26 GTFCC partner institutions. 

    The 4th October Call to Action received great coverage in the media and helped raise the profile of cholera on the public health agenda. The GTFCC Secretariat is now:

    • Working with countries and partners to start the implementation of the Global Roadmap 
    • Engaging in advocacy and communications to ensure that cholera control is included in relevant global and national plans and frameworks. 
    • Following up with donors and countries to ensure resource gaps are filled 

    Click here to view the list of participants.

    Click here to view the agenda.

    03/11/2017 14:37
    Why investing in food security when we work in the health sector?

    Why investing in food security when we work in the health sector?

    The Global Nutrition Report 2016 illustrated that nearly 800 million people experience hunger and suffer from calorie deficiency, 2 billion people worldwide suffer from micronutrient malnutrition and 2 billion people are overweight and obese. Nutrition has become more complex over the last decades with the apparition of the double burden of malnutrition: Many countries witness a simultaneous increase of undernutrition and overweight.


    Nutrition has become more complex over the last decades with the apparition of the double burden of malnutrition: Many countries witness a simultaneous increase of undernutrition and overweight. In low- and middle-income countries, poor nutrition has led to a fast rise in childhood overweight and obesity while undernutrition still causes nearly half of deaths in children under five years old worldwide. Particularly, the globally changed dietary patterns, with an increasing consumption of meat, sugar, fats and processed food have led to a rapidly increasing proportion of overweight children world-wide. This is alarming since obese children are very likely to remain obese as they grow up and to be at high risk for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes or heart diseases.


    Malnutrition is a multi-faceted problem with multiple causes across a number of sectors. Single sector approaches do not work for nutrition interventions. The fight against malnutrition requires a multi-sectoral approach, covering aspects of health, water and sanitation, education, agriculture and many more.


    How are our projects doing?

    SDC's Global Programme Food Security together with the Global Programme Health recently conducted a resource tracking exercise based on a methodology developed by the SUN Donor Network (Scaling Up Nutrition). At an international level, this exercise aims at increasing accountability for international development funding targeted at improving nutrition. At an SDC internal level, the exercise revealed that SDC supports many interventions in the health, water and agriculture domains, which are considered nutrition-sensitive. Interventions are nutrition-sensitive if their primary objective is not nutrition, but if they have the potential to improve the food and nutrition security of beneficiaries or address the underlying causes of malnutrition (e.g., by targeting agriculture and food security, health, care, education, water and sanitation).

    Improving hygiene and sanitation has tremendous effects on well-being and increases the body's ability to take up and use nutrients. In our projects, we can acknowledge and increase these benefits by programming in a more nutrition-sensitive manner.


    More information about World Food day: FAO

    Read our last newsletter article to know more about food and health at SDC: Newsletter article

    17/10/2017 08:15
    The path to longer and healthier lives for all Africans by 2030: the Lancet Commission on the future of health in sub-Saharan Africa

    ​The path to longer and healthier lives for all Africans by 2030: the Lancet Commission on the future of health in sub-Saharan Africa

    Many sub-Saharan countries face a double burden of persistent infectious diseases, malnutrition, and child and maternal mortality, as well as emerging challenges from an increasing prevalence of chronic and non-communicable diseases, mental health disorders, injuries, and health problems related to climate change and environmental degradation. Although there has been some progress, life expectancy and many population health indicators remain behind most low-income and middle-income countries in other parts of the world. The Lancet Commission – ‘The path to longer and healthier lives for all Africans by 2030’ - led by African physicians, scientists, and policy makers has been established to chart a vision of the future and a roadmap for improved health for sub-Saharan Africans. The spirit of this Commission is one of evidence-based optimism, but with caution. The Commission developed key messages ranging from the creation of people-centred health systems to promoting stronger more effective regional cooperation. A key message is that if the right policies are implemented, and if African leadership is truly empowered to utilise the human resources assets of an ever growing youthful region, closing the health gap in a generation can be attained.

    The full article published in the Lancet online on September 13, 2017, by Akua Agyepong I, Sewankambo N, Binagwaho A et al.can be accessed here.

    11/10/2017 18:19
    ​Are you feeling well at work? World Mental Health Day 2017

    ​Are you feeling well at work? World Mental Health Day 2017

    It has been shown that investing in the promotion of mental health and in the support of employees who have mental disorders was beneficial for companies and employers doing so. The gains did not only benefit the health of their employees but also their productivity at work. On the other hand, a negative working environment, may lead to mental health issues which can have as consequences to increase employee absenteeism, lower rates of productivity.


    Common mental health disorders like depression or anxiety have an impact on our ability to work. Globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression; 260 million are living with anxiety disorders. A recent WHO-led study estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$1 trillion per year in lost productivity!


    Mental health is an integral part of health and well-being. Mental, neurological, and substance use disorders are common in all regions of the world, affecting every community and age group across all income countries. While 14% of the global burden of disease is attributed to these disorders, most of the people affected - 75% in many low-income countries - do not have access to the treatment they need

    Find out more about Mental Health, WMHD and the Global Action Plan (mhGAP):  

    10/10/2017 15:00
    Start of the course "Health Care and Management: From Research to Implementation”

    Start of the course "Health Care and Management: From Research to Implementation”

    Swiss TPH, a world-leading institution in health research, training and services, would like to announce the 25th “Health Care and Management: From Research to Implementation” course starting in March 2018. Since 1994, almost 600 course participants from 70 countries have successfully completed this course and made an important step forward in their career.

    The 14-week, full-time course introduces students to a range of skills and knowledge needed to work as a public or international health professional in resource-constrained settings, with a special focus on supporting implementation.

    Students of the course benefit from the expertise and experience shared by facilitators, who are active in the field. Topics range from concepts and research methods to health problems and responses and health systems, management and communication.

    “The Health Care and Management: From Research to Implementation” course is a mandatory core course for the tropEd accredited MAS in International Health. The course itself is accredited by the University of Basel as a Diploma of Advanced Studies (DAS).

    Self-paying students are welcome to apply for the next course in 2018, while a limited number of scholarships is only available for the course in 2019.

    We have extended the deadline for application to 31 December 2017.

    For further Information and other course opportunities please visit

    04/10/2017 15:54
    "Take a minute, change a life”

    "Take a minute, change a life”

    Every year, 800’000 people die due by suicide or one person every 40 seconds. Yet suicide is preventable. According to the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) a word of support and listening with no judgement someone in difficulties can make all the difference in this person’s life. People are usually reluctant to talk to somebody because they do not want to worsen the situation. Well, according to individuals who went through this deter and now advocate for suicide prevention, they mostly argue that they were not looking for any specific advice but simply for compassion and empathy.


    Suicide is recognized as a public health priority by the World Health Organization. It published a first World Suicide Report “Preventing suicide: a global imperative” in 2014. This report aimed to raise the public awareness on health implications and the importance of suicide and suicide attempts. It put suicide prevention as a high priority in the global public health agenda. WHO also encourages and supports countries to develop or strengthen comprehensive suicide prevention strategies in a multisectoral public health approach.

    Suicide also figures as a priority condition in the WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP). In the WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020, WHO Member States committed themselves to working towards the global target: reducing the suicide rate in countries by 10% by 2020.


    More recently, the Sustainable Development Goals integrate the suicide mortality rate as an indicator of the target 3.4: reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment, and promote mental health and well-being.

    Read more about it:

    WHO on Suicide:

    World Suicide Prevention Day:  

    17/09/2017 21:34
    High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and Health

    High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and Health

    The "2017 HLPF Thematic review of SDG3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages", provide the progresses of each target. The 2017 publication of the World Health Statistics which include 31 health and health-related indicators reveal that despite the improvements achieved during the MDG era, challenges remain in the field of reducing maternal, newborn and child mortality,  improving nutrition, ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, and making further progress in the battle against communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, tuberculosis, malaria, neglected tropical diseases and hepatitis is necessary.

    In terms of reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, the maternal mortality ratio stood at 216 per 100 000 live births globally in 2015. To achieve the 3.1 goal a huge acceleration in the annual rate of reduction of at least 7.3% is require, which represents more than the triple that attained between 1990 and 2015.

    The neonatal mortality rate declined from 31 deaths per 1000 live births in 2000 to 19 deaths per 1000 live births in 2015. Nevertheless, if neonatal mortality is decreasing, its proportion of the global under-give mortality is increasing.

    The HIV incidence rate among children declines by 59% to 0.31 new infections per 1000 children in five years between 2010 and 2015. AIDS still remains the leading cause of death among women aged between 15 and 49 years.

    When it comes to non-communicable diseases, the risk of dying from the four main NCDs between ages 30 and 70 decreased from 23% in 2000 to 19% in 2015.

    The access to sexual and reproductive health-care services increased slightly globally when measuring the proportion of women of reproductive age who were married or in-union who had access to modern family planning methods, from 74.5% in 2000 to 76.7% in 2017.

    The document also gives recommendations in which it stresses the needs to invest in multi-stakeholder partnerships "in order to remove barriers to equitable health serves which are responsive to increasingly diverse population health profiles and needs, and to reach those most further behind first". Furthermore, it insists on the improvement of "multi-sectoral action, strengthen health systems, realize equity and fulfil protect and promote human rights, promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and to secure adequate and sustained financing and investment in scientific research and innovation".  Furthermore, the report highlights the connection between SDG 3 and the other goals.

    Lastly the report addresses the growing challenges that are not part of the 2030 Agenda but will need to be tackled to achieve them like the threats of Anti-Microbial Resistance, which will have consequences beyond health. It will have repercussions on the SDGs related to "the environment, food and agriculture, water, sanitation, research and development, and economic growth". Mental health is the second challenge addressed here. Investment of human and financial resources in the area is lacking and more effort should be put into it as the linkages with many SDGs are at stakes. Mental health "in accordance with human rights norms and standards are crucial for the achievement of SDG3 and the 2030 agenda as a whole".

    Linkages between the different SDGs are crucial for the realization of the 2030 agenda, which is why Switzerland joined the cross-regional statement on the linkages between SDG3 and 5 on sexual and reproductive health.

    This High Level Political Forum was also the opportunity for Switzerland to underline the importance of a multistakeholders approach to realize SDG3. It fostered its support to this approach in the R&D field for neglected diseases by showing its support to DNDi, which took part to the panel.

    Background note: 2017 HLFP Thematic Review of SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

    Visit the Sustainable Development: Knowledge Platform

    19/07/2017 13:28
    Toward Access 2030: a better access to medicines for all!

    Toward Access 2030: a better access to medicines for all!

    Access to affordable and quality medicines is a key target of the SDG 3. With this in mind, WHO calls for new research and development (R&D) models in this field among other steps to achieve universal health coverage and access for all. The new WHO Medicines and Health Products Programme Strategic Framework 2016-2030: “Towards Access 2030”, sets the stage for WHO’s vision on the topic: “a world where every child, man and woman has access to the quality essential medicines, vaccines and other health products they need to lead a healthy and productive life”.

    The document presents the challenges to achieve the 3.8 target by underlining the costs of medicines and health products and the financial burden it represents in low- and middle-income countries where households pay medical products out-of-pocket.

    The financing gap in R&D and market toward many public health needs remains a great challenge in developing countries and WHO calls for new research and development (R&D) models, as well as the delinkage of the costs of these R&D from the final price of products and fair pricing.

    The framework cites existing initiatives aiming to foster R&D: the Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation, and Intellectual Property (GSPOA), the report of the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development (CEWG). Switzerland, through the Global Programme Health actively supports the CEWG initiative. The framework recognizes that although these efforts stressed “the need to change the way R&D is financed”, a “global agreement on how to ensure new products are developed that meet priority health needs” is still missing.

    The purpose of the Programme will be to “coordinate across the three organizational levels to promote and prioritize the following approaches: responsiveness to Member States’ health needs; recognition of country ownership; adherence to the highest professional and ethical standards in technical work and stakeholder relations; outstanding leadership and service through information and knowledge sharing advocacy; commitment to partnerships;  and  accountability and focus on results by defining clear objectives, and organizing work and resources to achieve them.”

    Towards Access 2030: WHO Medicines and Health Products Programme Strategic Framework 2016-2030

    17/07/2017 14:14
    Health at the G20‘s Table

    Health at the G20‘s Table

    The “G20 Leaders’ Declaration: shaping an interconnected world” that concludes the meeting in Hamburg did not take major steps towards the health challenges. However two specific paragraphs were concerned with health matters.

    The first one on “safeguarding against health crises and strengthening health systems” call on the UN “to keep global health high on the political agenda” and value the importance of cross-sectoral cooperation. They also recognize the importance of the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) in prevention, preparedness and response efforts. They also stressed the importance of fostering R&D preparedness through globally coordinated models such as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

    On “Combatting Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)”, the G20 members agreed to “have implementation of our National Action Plans, based on a One-Health approach”. The Declaration also states that they will promote a prudent use of antibiotics in all sectors, strengthen public awareness, infection prevention and control, and improve the understanding of antimicrobials in the environment. They promise access to “and quality antimicrobials, vaccines and diagnostics, including through efforts to preserve existing therapeutic options”. The declaration stressed the importance of strengthening R&D and “call for a new international R&D Collaboration Hub to maximize the impact of existing and new anti-microbial basic and clinical research initiatives as well as product development”.

    Find more details in the official statement, here>>

    12/07/2017 15:20
    World No Tobacco Day

    World NoTobacco Day

    The link between tobacco and health is pretty clear, but how is tobacco linked to sustainable development and economic well-being? Well, on this World No Tobacco Day, the response will be unveiled. Hence, this year’s campaign by WHO and its partners aims to demonstrate the threats that the tobacco industry poses to the sustainable development of all countries.

    Tobacco control contributes directly to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 3.4: to reduce premature deaths from noncommunicable diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancers and chronic obstructed pulmonary disease. But more than this, tobacco control contains the adverse environmental impact of tobacco growing, manufacturing, trade and consumption. Indeed, according to WHO, “tobacco control can break the cycle of poverty, contribute to ending hunger, promote sustainable agriculture and economic growth and combat climate change”.

    Governments are not the only ones this year’s campaign is directed to. At an individual level people can contribute to a sustainable, tobacco-free world by committing to never start using tobacco products, quit the habit or seek help for doing so.

    Find more information here>>

    Picture credit:

    31/05/2017 10:34
    G20 Health Ministers Meeting

    G20 Health Ministers Meeting

    It was a first, 20 health ministers met in Berlin on 19 and 20 May, for the first meeting of G20 Health Ministers. The meeting focused on global health and was held under the motto: “Together Today for a Healthy tomorrow – Joint Commitment for Shaping Global Health”. The G20 countries covered topics like health security and Antimicrobial Resistance. The G20 countries committed for example to combat Antimicrobial Resistance by developing and implementing national action plans based on a One-Health approach. The meeting looked at ways to improve global health systems and explored ways to combat antimicrobial resistance. Also in order to rehearse their preparedness, the ministers went through an exercise of a fictitious cross-border outbreak together with representative of the WHO and World Bank. This meeting was also the occasion for the G20 Health Ministers to adopt the Berlin Declaration of the G20 Health Ministers. The declaration states the importance that products emerging from such R&D efforts become accessible to all people in need. Moreover the declaration commits to broaden the voluntary financial support for ongoing initiatives, such as the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP), the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), UNITAID, the Joint Programming Initiative on AMR (JPIAMR), Combating Antibiotic Resistance Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X), Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), and the TB Alliance for new anti-tuberculosis medicines. The health ministers also called on other countries, philanthropic organizations, academia, and the private sector to support those initiatives.

    Link to the declaration >>

    Find more information here >>

    Photo copyright: BMG/Inga Kjer (photothek)

    22/05/2017 14:06
    70th World Health Assembly - 22-31 May 2017

    70th World Health Assembly - 22-31 May 2017

    The World Health Organization’s 70th annual World Health Assembly will take place from 22 to 31 May 2017 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. It will be attended by nearly 4000 delegates from WHO’s 194 Member States and partner organizations. The Assembly is WHO’s highest decision-making body, setting out the Organization’s policy and approving its budget.

    This year’s meeting will be webcast live, including the plenary sessions and the deliberations in Committees A and B. WHO will issue daily press releases, detailing decisions taken at the Assembly.

    On Tuesday, 23 May, the Assembly will elect a new Director-General, who will take office for a term of five years on 1 July 2017. Full details of how the election will proceed can be found here>>

    Technical issues to be discussed at this WHA include:

    • Approval of the 2018-19 Programme budget
    • Responding to health emergencies
    • Poliomyelitis
    • Antimicrobial resistance
    • Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Networ
    • Access to medicines and vaccines and Global Vaccine Action Plan
    • Health of refugees and migrants
    • Global vector control response
    • Noncommunicable diseases, including: dementia, the public health dimension of the global drug problem, nutrition, childhood obesity, cancer, tobacco control, deafness and hearing loss and preparations for UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on NCDs in 2018
    • Health through the life course, including implementing the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development, a strategic approach to chemicals management, and the Global Strategy for Adolescents’ Health.
    • Progress reports on a variety of issues.

    The provisional agenda can be found here>>

    An updated WHA Daily Journal will be posted on the web every morning from 22 May.

    The Preliminary Journal is available here>>

    17/05/2017 09:14
    Credit - UN Photo/x  Arab Refugee Girls Study Nursing in England
    International Nurses Day 2017

    International Nurses Day 2017

    Today we celebrate Florence Nightingale birth (the founder of modern nursing), or the International Nurses Day. An occasion to highlight the key role played by nurses and every healthcare worker around the world. This year, the theme of this special day is Nursing: A voice to lead – Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. At this occasion, the International Council of Nurses released a Resource and Evidence guidance pack as well as a website and video to emphasis the role of nurses in achieving the sustainable development goals.

    Nurses play a key role in caring for and educating/ training/ empowering patients, and always take into account the situation as a whole, included the social determinants of health. All around the world, they strive to deliver the best and most adapted care to their patients and communities by thinking outside the box and overcoming external challenges. According to the ICN President, “Investing in the nursing profession is essential for economic growth and the achievement of universal health care.”

    Find out more about the Nurse’s role in achieving the SDGs here>>

    Source: International Council of Nurses – The global voice of nursing Press Information

    Image Credit: UN Photo/x Arab Refugee Girls Study Nursing in England

    12/05/2017 14:11
    Impact of health insurance on use of maternal health services

    Impact of health insurance on use of maternal health services

    With health insurance on the rise in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), a number of studies have evaluated its impact on the use of general health care services, but there has been limited evidence on the impact of health insurance on use of maternal health services. However, in the context of global maternal and child health priorities, there is a growing need to evaluate whether health insurance has contributed to improved use of maternal health care. Using nationally representative data from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), a recent study assesses the impact of health insurance on the use of antenatal care and facility-based delivery care in Ghana, Indonesia, and Rwanda – countries that have a high level of health insurance coverage and more mature schemes. All the study countries health insurance schemes primarily focus on the poor and heavily subsidize, or even waive premiums for them.

    Apart from premiums, factors influencing enrolment in health insurance were found to include perceivjuan Wang et aled need for health insurance, knowledge about its benefits and cultural factors, as well as individuals’ health conditions. Additionally, women in poorer households did not always know about their health insurance status when coverage is household-based, which affected service uptake.

    In all three countries, health insurance coverage contributed to a 5–11% increase in use of facility-based delivery care. In Indonesia and Rwanda insurance coverage has a significant positive impact on women’s access to at least one antenatal care visit. In Ghana and Indonesia, insurance coverage shows a positive impact on women making at least four antenatal visits, as recommended by the World Health Organization. The variation in results relates in part to different insurance conditions relating to comprehensive free care or the requirement for co-payments.

    The study overall suggests that free health insurance enrolment for the poor and income-sensitive premiums, as well as the provision of antenatal care with no or low co-payments, can encourage higher rates of maternal care utilization. These results support the case for broadening access to health insurance offering comprehensive coverage of maternal healthcare services.

    The full article can be accessed accessedcan be accessed online, here>>

    Wenjuan Wang, Gheda Temsah and Lindsay Mallick (2017). The impact of health insurance on maternal health care utilization: evidence from Ghana, Indonesia and Rwanda. Health Policy and Planning 32 (3): 366-375.

    11/05/2017 17:05
    World Malaria Day

    World Malaria Day

    Today, Malaria is still highly prevalent worldwide. In 2015, almost 212 million cases were recorded and an estimated of 429 000 malaria deaths. The African Region is predominantly affected by the disease by “hosting” 90% of the malaria cases and 92% of malaria deaths. More than a simple disease, Malaria reinforces poverty and causes the deaths of almost half a million people per year – mainly among young children, babies, and pregnant women. Malaria is accountable for the death of one child every 2 minutes (World Malaria Report 2016).

    Malaria is preventable and curable. The incidence of the disease fell by 21% in the last five years so did the malaria mortality rates among population at risk within the same period. Investment in malaria is considered to be one of the “best buys” in global health and development. Since 2000, more than 6 million lives have been saved (UNICEF and WHO 2015. Achieving the malaria MDG Target. Reversing the incidence of malaria 2000-2015). Yet, these recent gains are increasingly threatened by resistance against medicines and insecticides, combined with insufficient investments against the disease.

    Good news in terms of vaccination were announced yesterday by the WHO. The first malaria vaccine, RTS,S will be administrated from 2018 in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi. This is an important step toward a global rollout. The aim of this pilots in these three countries is to evaluate the feasibility of delivering the required four doses of RTS,S in real-life settings as well as its potential role in reducing childhood deaths and the safety of the vaccine in the context of routine use.

    Together Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and UNITAID invested $49.2 million for the first phase of the pilot program. The implementation will be done by the Ministries of Health in coordination with WHO.

    Sources articles: WHO, Swiss Malaria Group, the Global Fund Partnership Supports Launch of Malaria Vaccine Pilots in Three African Countries

    Picture copyright: David ODwyer/ Swiss Malaria Group

    Take the online quiz from BioMed Central here>>

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    25/04/2017 15:09
    Systematic review of performance-based financing for improving HIV and AIDS service delivery

    Systematic review of performance-based financing for improving HIV and AIDS service delivery

    As funds to address HIV and AIDS are under pressure, innovative ways are needed to make services more effective and efficient. A systematic review has recently been published on whether providing incentives for the health system such as performance-based financing (PBF) may support countries to achieve more with available resource. 

    Amitabh B.Suthar, Jason M. Nagata, Sabin Nsanzimana, Till Bärnighausen, Eyerusalem K.Negussie and Meg C. Doherty (2017). Performance-based financing for improvingHIV/AIDS service delivery: a systematic review. BMC Health Services Research 2017. 17:6

    Results of the analysis of effects of PBF on HIV and AIDS service delivery revealed that although PBF did not improve individual testing coverage, it significantly improved testing coverage of couples and pregnant women. Furthermore, PBF improved antiretroviral coverage of both pregnant women and other adults. It was also significantly associated with reduced treatment drop-outs and failure. The full article on the systematic review findings can be accessed here>>

    24/03/2017 15:00
    Partnerships model for mental healthcare in low-resource settings

    ​Partnerships model for mental healthcare in low-resource settings

    Tackling the growing burden of mental health poses great challenges in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) were often specialist professions are weak and need to be strengthened. Health partnerships are often cited as the way forward, yet these often exist informally between healthcare delivery or training institutions in high-income countries, and their low- or middle-income counterparts. Such peer-to-peer collaborations can build the capacity and expertise of the health workforce within a particular institution and can also broaden into more integrated support for health systems, such as national and institutional health strategies, standards and protocols.

    A 2017 commentary by Acharya et al shares a model developed in Nepal where there is extremely limited access to high quality, culturally-sensitive, and contextually-appropriate mental healthcare services. The model integrates mental healthcare services within a rural public hospital and includes the training and supervision of generalist health workers by off-site psychiatrists. This was made possible by complementing the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of  groups involved that included public sector services, a non-profit organization that provided general healthcare services and one that specialized in mental health, a community advisory board, academic centres in high- and low-income countries, and bicultural professionals from the Nepal diaspora community.

    The commentary can be accessed online:
    Acharya, B. et al (2017). Partnerships in mental healthcare service delivery in low-resource settings: developing an innovative network in rural Nepal. Globalization and Health. 13:2.

    The journal Globalization and Health has a 2017 series on a broad range of health partnerships that can be accessed here>>

    20/02/2017 15:20
    Implications of rising diabetes worldwide

    ​Implications of rising diabetes worldwide

    Wareham NJ, Herman WH (2016) The Clinical and Public Health Challenges of Diabetes Prevention: A Search for Sustainable Solutions. PLoS Med 13(7): e1002097. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002097

    The rise in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) presents a major global clinical and public health challenge. Of particular concern is the potential of this trend to widen existing health inequalities. Inequity is at the heart of the diabetes problem, since 75% of cases occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)  and the impact of diabetes on LMICs is expected to be particularly severe in the future as the disease is chronic, expensive to treat, and tends to affect people at an age when they are economically active. The cost of responding to the consequences of diabetes poses a threat to health systems as well as to broader economic stability, which in turn places long-term sustainable development at risk.

    The pattern of the incidence and prevalence of T2D suggests that the disorder originates from a complex interaction between lifestyle, obesity, and susceptibility, driven by both genetic factors and by maternal and postnatal nutrition. The major driving force behind the contemporary rise in prevalence reflects changes in diet and physical activity. At the global level, there is a strong interconnection between the emergence of T2D and changes in the food supply and patterns of consumption, changes in transportation use, and related issues such as air pollution and climate change.

    This short editorial article, which can be accessed online broadly discusses the problem of T2D worldwide and the current approaches to tackling the problem. It introduces the PLOS Medicine Special Issue on Diabetes that can be accessed here

    13/02/2017 14:18
    In remembrance of Hans Rosling

    In remembrance of Hans Rosling

    Hans Rosling, Professor in International Health at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute has died last Tuesday. Rosling was an outstanding person in public health due to his humor and his talent to make statics understandable and interpretable. We could witness his great skills as an “edutainer” at SDC’s Annual Conference on Health in August 2015 where Rosling provided a keynote lecture. We share with Isabella Lövin, Sweden’s deputy prime minister, her appreciation that “he challenged the whole world’s view of development with his amazing teaching skills, [and that] he managed to show everyone that things are moving forward”. We will miss Hans Rosling, his inspiration, and his standing up for fact.


    Hans Rosling on TED

    SDC’s Annual Conference - Rückblick: Rosling «Mit Beharrlichkeit und echtem Willen ist der Kampf gegen die Armut zu gewinnen.»


    10/02/2017 08:44
    Supporting SDG implementation through health promotion

    Supporting SDG implementation through health promotion

    Health promotion has multiple potentials to make strong contributions to the Sustainable Development Agenda by empowering people to increase control over their health and ensuring inclusiveness; reducing health inequities caused by the unequal distribution of funds, power and resources; addressing the interdependence of sustainable health and the environment; acting  on  the  cross-cutting  political,  economic,  social,  cultural  and  environmental  determinants  of health; and, achieving multiple benefits by working  across  sectors, at  different  levels of  governance, and with a wide range of actors.

    Thirty years on from the adoption of the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, the Ninth Global Conference on Health Promotion held in Shanghai, 21 -24 November 2016 produced the “Shanghai Declaration on promoting health in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. This commits to prioritising health promotion in the development and implementation of the SDGs at the national, global and local levels by prioritizing health promotion action in three areas:

    I. Strengthening good governance for health

    2. Improving urban health and supporting healthy cities and communities

    3. Strengthening health literacy

    These action areas reflect critical entry points to for change through what are termed “whole-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approaches. The Shanghai Declaration is available online at

    26/01/2017 10:33
    Call for applications 23/01/2017 12:14
    HIV Update

    As global attention was focussed on HIV and AIDS on World AIDS Day on the first of December 2016, it is timely to share an update on information and resources.

    Global Burden of Disease HIV Collaborators (2015). Estimates of global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and mortality of HIV, 1980–2015: the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. Lancet HIV 2016; 3: e361–87 Published Online July 19, 2016 S2352-3018(16)30087-X

    The Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) is a systematic, scientific effort to quantify all-cause mortality; cause-specific mortality; and disease incidence, prevalence, and burden attributable to risk factors by age, sex, and geography over time. Timely assessment of the burden of HIV and AIDS is essential for policy setting and programme evaluation. In this report from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015 (GBD 2015), national estimates are provided of levels and trends of HIV and AIDS incidence, prevalence, coverage of antiretroviral therapy (ART), and mortality for 195 countries and territories from 1980 to 2015. The report can be accessed online at the Lancet site, click here »

    UNAIDS (2016) Get on the Fast-Track: The life-cycle approach to HIV

    The life cycle can be used as a lens to better understand the complex dynamics of the HIV epidemic and its response. In November UNAIDS published its life-cycle approach to HIV to ensure that the best solutions are offered to people throughout their life course.
    The report presents progress, gaps, key challenges and solutions at different stages of the life-cycle, together with country-level statistics. Of particular interest to some readers will be the section on key populations throughout the life-cycle, which offers a detailed strategy mix for at-risk groups. The report can be accessed online (click here »), or download PDF here »

    UNAIDS (2016) AIDS by the numbers. 

    UNAIDS has published a document that is a useful resource for anyone needing recent figures relating to ending the AIDS epidemic within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.
    The report presents the UNAIDS Fast Track targets for a reduction in new infections, AIDS-related deaths and discrimination, as well as global and regional epidemiological data summaries. The presentation of data lends itself to easy use for presentation slides. This can be accessed online (click here »), or dowload PDF here »

    UNICEF (2016) For Every Child, End AIDS: UNICEF Seventh Stocktaking Report, December 2016
    In spite of great progress, over half of the world’s new HIV cases last year were among women, children and adolescents. Every day, approximately 400 children become infected and every two minutes, an adolescent between the ages of 15 and 19 is infected with HIV – two thirds of them girls. And while deaths due to AIDS have decreased for all other age groups since 2010, among adolescents mortality has increased and AIDS is a leading cause of death of adolescents globally and in sub-Saharan Africa in particular.
    This new report from UNICEF proposes strategies for preventing HIV among women, children and adolescents who have been left behind. It can be accessed online (click here »​) or download PDF here »

    19/01/2017 12:34
    World Malaria Report 2016

    World Malaria Report 2016

    This year's World Malaria Report report tracks progress towards the 2020 malaria goals of the "Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030". It offers an in-depth analysis of trends in malaria control and elimination at global, regional and country levels.

    The "World Malaria Report 2016" draws on data from 91 countries and areas with ongoing malaria transmission. The information is supplemented by data from national household surveys and databases held by other organizations.

    The World Malaria Report 2016 also acknowledges the contributions of SDC and SwissTPH to GlobMal.
    Download the full report here

    21/12/2016 10:29
    Status and Prospects of Family Medicine Development in the Republic of Tajikistan

    ​Status and Prospects of Family Medicine Development in the Republic of Tajikistan

    On 27th September 2016 the Ministry of Health and Social Protection (MoHSP) convened a regional conference entitled “Status and Prospects of Family Medicine Development in the Republic of Tajikistan”. The event was supported by the key partners of MoHSP, namely the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), World Health Organization, World Bank, European Union and Aga Khan Foundation.

    SDC supports the health sector in Tajikistan in many ways, including through the “Medical Education Reform Project” implemented by Swiss TPH and the "Enhancing Primary Health Care Services" Project implemented by Swiss TPH and Save the Children. A number of presentations were made at the conference based on these projects’ experiences: on how medical education is the foundation of successful Family Medicine in the country, and on the importance of transparent health planning with community involvement. Over 200 regional stakeholders from all levels of the health system attended. The MoHSP took the opportunity of this event - coinciding with the country’s celebration of 25 years of independence - to share the progress made in Primary Health Care over the last 15 years, and how this will be intensified in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals. It also presented the new Strategic Plan for the Development of Family Medicine-based Primary Health Care in Tajikistan 2016-2020.

    Contct: or

    15/12/2016 09:26
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