Need to strengthen health infrastructure in rural areas

‘The Delhi Commitment on Sustainable Development Goal for Health’ was recently released on the conclusion of a consultation organized by the WHO in New Delhi
Need to strengthen health infrastructure in rural areas

At a national consultation, recently organised jointly by World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) in New Delhi on transitioning from Millennium Development Goals ( MDGs) to Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs), Dr Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative to India and Chair UN Health Group-India called for strengthening the health infrastructure and human resources for health in rural areas.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Bekedam said, “The health goal aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all in all ages and also that no one is left behind. Universal Health Coverage, which is an explicit target under SDG-3, can act as the overarching umbrella to guide the targets under SDG for health.”

Senior health officials from the Centre and several States expressed their commitment to work collaboratively towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal-3: "Ensure healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages" by 2030.

Shripad Naik, Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare and Minister of State (Independent Charge), AYUSH released the ‘The Delhi Commitment on Sustainable Development Goal for Health.’

Naik said, “Let the commitment that we all affirmed today serve as a constant reminder and guide as we venture to achieve the SDGs.”

Naik said, “SDG 3 is also inextricably linked to many other SDGs indicating that symbiotic convergence will be required with all sectors that impact health to jointly undertake support and advocacy to build a shared vision.”

“We all need to work as Team India. Union and state governments have to work as a team, all departments have to work as a team and experts. Civil society and private sector also have to work as a team to meet the common goals of SDG,” he added.

The key objectives of the meeting were to discuss the Sustainable Development Agenda and the role of health; orient and consult all major national and state-level stakeholders on adoption and implementation of SDG-3; policy options for implementing the Health SDG in India; and strengthening the health systems response.

Dr Bekedam shared five recommendations for progressing towards Health related Sustainable Development Goals: (i) health must be high on the national and state agenda, and government health expenditure needs to be increased; (ii) build on the National Health Mission, invest in public health and scale-up the effective interventions; (iii) build robust health delivery system in all aspects, especially strengthen the health infrastructure and Human Resources for Health in rural areas where 70% of India resides; (iv) accelerate the implementation of Universal Health Coverage; and (v) ensure that there is a strong monitoring and evaluation system.

It emerged from the deliberations that in aiming towards a more transformational and ambitious agenda, the key to success will be striking the right balance between the unfinished agenda of tackling the burden of maternal and childhood mortality, while bringing to the forefront equally important issues of noncommunicable diseases and environmental hazards, strengthening health systems and striving towards Universal Health Coverage so that no-one is left behind.

There was a broad consensus that a national framework for implementation and monitoring and evaluation of health goal needs to be developed. This will then be adopted or adapted by the states for effective rollout and implementation of strategies to achieve the SDG-3 targets.


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BK Jha is the Special Correspondent of Rural & Marketing. Prior to this he has been associated with The Hindustan Times, Political and Business Daily along with many other media organisations.
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