WHO Estimates Cost of Reaching SDG Health Targets
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The WHO estimates that achieving the health-related targets under the SDGs will cost up US$134-371 billion a year over current health spending - a price tag of US$58 per person each year.

Almost one in 10 infants in the world did not receive any vaccinations in 2016.

The Governments of Austria, Colombia, and Ecuador hosted a side event on 'The UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines: Advancing Health-related SDGs Through Policy Coherence'.

17 July 2017: The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that achieving the health-related targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will cost up to US$134-371 billion a year over current health spending – a price tag of US$58 per person each year. In addition, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WHO highlighted the existing immunization gap around the world, noting that approximately one out of every ten children were not immunized in 2016. The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) is reviewing progress on SDG 3 (good health and well-being), among six others.

Medical journal The Lancet Global Health published the WHO estimates in a paper titled, ‘The SDG Health Price Tag.’ The paper estimates the cost of gradually expanding health services to achieve universal health coverage, building clinics, hospitals and laboratories; buying medical equipment, employing more healthcare staff and running outreach programmes. The costs are estimated based on what it will take to achieve 16 health-related targets in the SDGs in 67 low- and middle-income countries, where three-quarters of the world’s population lives. The analysis took into account not only targets under SDG 3 on health, but also some targets under SDG 2 on zero hunger, SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation, and SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy.

WHO estimates that 97 million premature deaths could be prevented between now and 2030, and up to 8.4 years of life expectancy could be added as a consequence of expanding health services. The study suggests that countries will be able to meet 85% of the needed costs on their own, and that the international community will need to help the world’s poorest countries to meet a financing gap of up to US$54 billion.

Current health spending as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) in low- to middle-income countries averages 5.6%, compared with the global average of 9.9%. Taking on the challenge of the SDGs would require boosting health spending to 7.5% of GDP in the lower-spending countries.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on all countries to make “the political choice” to provide universal health coverage.

In addition, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WHO highlighted the existing immunization gap around the world, with around 13 million children – almost one in every 10 children in the world – not vaccinated in 2016. Some children receive a first immunization, but then do not complete the full course of basic immunizations. Immunization coverage has not progressed since 2010. Nevertheless, equality of access to vaccinations has somewhat improved: a report by WHO, titled ‘State of Inequality: Childhood Immunization’ draws on disaggregated data within countries to show that there is less inequality of access now than 10 years ago.

Robin Nandy, UNICEF, called for making vaccination a priority in all contexts, noting the value of immunization in strengthening equity.

Around three-quarters of all children who do not receive vaccinations live in conflict-affected or fragile countries, with a large proportion living in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. A number of African countries fared poorly, including the Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Ukraine, where less than 50% of children received basic immunizations. The study also noted that some of the newer vaccines, such as those against rotavirus and pneumonia, are not yet prescribed through government health systems in many countries. Robin Nandy, Chief of Immunizations at UNICEF, called for making vaccination a priority in all contexts, noting the value of immunization in strengthening equity.

On the sidelines of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) meeting in New York, US, in July, the Governments of Austria, Colombia, and Ecuador hosted a side event on ‘The UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines: Advancing Health-related SDGs Through Policy Coherence.’ Magdy Martinez-Soliman, Assistant Secretary-General, UN Development Programme (UNDP), moderated the event. Participants discussed the report of the High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines, delivered in September 2016, with regard to achieving the SDG targets, including targets 3.8 and 3.11 on access to essential medicines and vaccines. [WHO Press Release on SDGs’ Price Tag] [WHO Press Release on Immunization Coverage] [UN Press Release on Immunization Coverage] [Side Event at HLPF] [State of Inequality: Childhood Immunization] [Report of the UN Secretary-General High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines]


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