Reflections on global health at the UN General Assembly

Sep 23, 2011


Ari DeLorenzi
Advocacy Associate, PATH


This week, the leaders of the world descended upon New York City for the 66th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, and many related high-level meetings and events.  The hustle and bustle in New York is always energizing to me, but this week was unlike any of my previous visits.  I may not have had the coveted badge to get anywhere even close to the UN buildings, but I attended and participated in several side events and conversations that painted a clear picture that the global community is joining forces, finding ways to leverage existing platforms, and partnering in new ways to chart a path forward for the improved health and well-being of women and children around the world. 


This global gathering in the big apple included the second-ever UN High level meeting on a health topic (since the UN Special Session on HIV/AIDS 10 years ago) - non-communicable diseases .It also marked one year since the Secretary General launched his Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health.  Now more than ever we need coordinated approaches that address the well-being of women and children and engage actors across development sectors for greater impact.  A report that was recently released by a group of six leading aid agencies, Join up, Scale up, sheds light on several real-life examples where progress has been accelerated through coordinated and integrated approaches.  This joined up approach is of course not without challenges, which include policy barriers and a lack of flexible funds to program in more integrated ways, but such coordinated programming is often more responsive to the actual, holistic health and wellness needs of individuals, communities and developing nations.  It seems clear that not only is increased leadership and support of this approach needed, but the lessons learned by the authors of this report can and should be applied as the world's leaders work to move forward to address increasing burdens of non communicable diseases such as cancer and diabetes, especially in low and middle income countries.  Together this means we must treat people instead of treating individual diseases and we must continue to collaborate across sectors. 

This increased global partnership and collaboration from governments, the private sector, NGOs and concerned citizens is encouraging, but we still have a lot of work to do in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals and to rise to the challenge of a growing burden of chronic diseases.  I am sure I'm not alone in saying that my hope is that, when we gather in New York again five years from now, the momentum will have carried us towards real impact and lives saved around the world.

-- Ari DeLorenzi, Advocacy Associate, PATH

For more information:

What do joined up programs look like in the field? Join up, Scale up highlights examples from 17 countries.

-- It's all about partnerships. Just ask the members of the Health/WASH Network.