The 2017 Global Health Forum in Taiwan, jointly organized by the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, takes place in Taipei from October 22nd to 23rd. The theme of the forum is “Inspiration, Action, and Movement: Implementation of SDGs”, which echoes with the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals to strengthen and improve the health and well-being for all. The forum has congregated internationally renowned experts in the fields of public health and medicine to brainstorms ideas on effective implementation of the sustainable development goals, and to share experiences with specialists, officials and experts from Taiwan’s academia, government and private sectors. The event has invited 58 experts from 35 nations and attendance is expected to be more than 1,000 participants.
Transforming our world: the Sustainable Development Goals
In the September of 2015, the United Nations announced the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 17 targets and 169 indicators to improve the health and well-being of all, incorporating priority areas such as elimination of poverty, sustainable development in nations, cross-border collaboration and sharing of resources and strategies, and ensuring that development is shared with regions lacking necessary resources. The goals also sought to create a platform for information sharing and professional assistance, and emphasized the importance of cross-disciplinary, cross-organizational and cross-border collaboration.
Dr. Ying-Wei Wang, Director General of the Health Promotion Administration, remarked that the SDGs is an amalgamation of three important facets – “Society”, “Economics” and “Environments, and the target of “Health for All” requires the mobilization of all fields in the society. Taking Goal 3 of the SDG “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” as an example, there are 13 sub-targets encompassing 26 indicators, ranging from maternal-infant mortality rate, prevention of infectious and non-communicable diseases, to traffic accidents, universal healthcare and environment pollution. To reach these targets require concerted efforts between governments and communities, which is necessary to achieve the global target of reduction in premature deaths between the ages 30 to 70 years by the year 2030.
Sharing of insights amongst worldwide experts
This year’s forum invited experts from around the world to examine the progress of the SDGs so far and shared what actions and advocacy are employed to promote the SDGs. Prof. Michael Moore, President of the World Federation of Public Health Associations, remarked that SDGs are the most effective expression of a health-in-all international policy; Prof. Jürgen M. Pelikan, Director of the WHO Collaborating Center on Health Promotion in Hospitals and Health Care in Austria, proposed that health literacy can support implementation of different SDGs through empowerment and decreasing health gaps; Prof. Robert Smith from the American Cancer Society, stated that many national case studies have demonstrated that great access to primary health care could lead to lower infant mortality, death rates from hypertension and stroke; the optimal way to achieve well-being is through community-based and person-centered care; Prof. Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine pointed out while 60% of countries worldwide are expected to achieve targets on under five mortality and maternal mortality, only less than 5% are expected to achieve targets such as childhood obesity, tuberculosis and traffic injury mortality; Ms. Annette Kennedy, President of the International Council of Nurses, further highlighted the indispensable role nurses play in achieving universal health coverage and SDGs in an increasingly resource-challenged health care environment.
Efforts of the MOHW toward achieving SDGs
This year’s forum also invited many experts from Southeastern nations to discuss issues and challenges on achieving SDGs. The forum features multiple parallel sessions focusing on wide range of SDG related issues, such as the non-communicable disease targets, the elimination of tuberculosis, integrated Western and Traditional Chinese healthcare for senior populations, reforms of healthcare system, transformation of integrated care, mental and oral health. Through reflecting on the progress made so far and the discussion from many disciplines of health, it is expected that better and more innovative strategies and inspiration can be drawn from the forum, and put into practice to solidifying better partnership with the Southeastern and global communities, and making a greater stride forward toward sustainable development.