Two young people ride a moped through floods.

Climate change is closely linked to human health and our entire welfare, the debater writes.


Sweden needs a united voice for global health

The United Kingdom, Germany, and Norway are some of the countries that have developed global health strategies. This week, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Social Affairs presented the publication Sweden's work with global health - for the implementation of Agenda 2030. The think tank Global Challenge welcomes the publication. Now there are deep dives, priorities, leadership and commitment.

Since 2017, researchers believe that we live on borrowed time. We live on resources that we borrow from future generations - our own children and grandchildren. In Sweden, our lifestyle corresponds to approximately 4,2 globes. At the same time, the health of the world has never been better. We live longer, on average 72 years compared to 64 years about forty years ago. The incidence of infectious diseases is decreasing. In recent years, the number of new cases of HIV has stabilized, although a particular challenge remains the widespread spread of HIV among young women. This spread accounts for over 70 percent of all new infections among young people. Polio is almost eradicated, and the increasing spread of malaria in recent years has now stopped. Both the global goals for sustainable development (Agenda 2030) and the climate agreement are global milestones that show international commitment and unity.

At the same time, we cannot turn a blind eye to the challenges. There is a clear link between discrimination, lack of respect for human rights and unequal access to health care. 2,5 billion people in the world are overweight and 800 million are malnourished. 300 million people in the world have ever suffered from depression - more are women than men. Reports also show that the concentration of plastic belts in the oceans is increasing and that there will soon be more plastic than fish in our oceans.

Sweden's work with global health - for the implementation of Agenda 2030 summarizes Sweden's current policy and international commitments, and how Sweden's continued unifying work for global health should look in line with Agenda 2030 and Sweden's policy for global development (PGU). The publication was presented as a complement to the Government's action plan for the implementation of Agenda 2030 from this spring. Furthermore, it summarizes what Sweden's should contribute to, identifies who the actors are and how their cooperation can be improved. It also clarifies what resources are available, and shows which arenas Sweden should operate in and how synergies can be achieved.

No new policy - but a collective grip

The writing does not contribute to any new policy, but takes a collective approach to the work that is going on. Possibly the shifts may be a basis for a united Swedish voice for the global health issues. For many who work with the issues, such work has been in demand and longed for. It also shows how clearly the goals in Agenda 2030 are connected, and that the climate goal is the most urgent and is closely linked to human health and our entire welfare.

Taking a holistic approach to global health issues, which both affects and can support all goals in Agenda 2030, is one of the most important things Sweden can do to contribute to implementation. We can ensure that several goals are met within the set time. At the same time, we are a small country, and must have a clearer aid focus and priorities in development cooperation. Increased aid is not the solution to the challenges, but a change in aid is necessary. For example, it can be done through higher sustainability requirements, and how we actually fight poverty without contributing to climate change. How closely aid is linked to local challenges will also be crucial. Based on the text, Sweden is well on its way to contributing to that change.

When the new publication was presented by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Social Affairs, momentum was created in the room. Authorities, organizations and companies from various sectors of society were present and showed great interest in the strategies. Now it is important to take advantage of these willing actors - guide, encourage collaborations, clarify assignments and reallocate resources. Sweden has a unique chance to showcase a broad front within the global health commitment from several sectors of society.

Most questions must now be addressed. Actors need to be coordinated, and especially in business there are important actors who can come up with many challenges, not least those involving medicines, food and emissions. Research, which is generally an underfunded activity and is often left behind for more urgent needs, must also be increasingly supported.

Global Challenge published the 2017 anthology 12 paths to global health - from research to policy which shares many of the opportunities and challenges in the implementation of Agenda 2030 that the publication contains. As a think tank with the main task of creating platforms for collaboration and contributing to policy change, we look forward to the in-depth work that is now beginning with most actors and continue to happily contribute to the design of a Swedish global health strategy and a broader adjustment of Swedish development assistance.

This is a debate article. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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