WHO's vision for the future

December 18, 2003

In the week that WHO releases its 2003 World Health report (Shaping the Future), Jung-Wook Lee, WHO Director-general, outlines his vision of how WHO will address the global health-care priorities of the coming years.

Lee's article comments: 'A world torn by gross health inequalities is in serious trouble. The global health community can do much to reduce suffering and death among vulnerable groups. WHO is changing its way of working, alongside member states and financial and technical partners, to reach key national health goals and strengthen equity. The most urgent objectives include the health-related Millennium Development Goals, the 3 by 5 target in HIV/AIDS treatment (to provide 3 million people in developing regions with access to antiretroviral treatment by the end of 2005), and addressing the growing epidemics of non-communicable diseases. The key to achieving these objectives is strengthening of health systems guided by the values of Health For All.'

This week's editorial (p 2033) comments on future research priorities to help address the challenge of the millennium development goals. It comments: "The next 12 months will provide the biomedical research community with its most important opportunity for a generation to contribute to global health and security. In November 2004, an international summit on health research will take place in Mexico City. That meeting will devise a technical agenda for health research, which will then be presented to national ministers of health. There is one overriding question that the summit, organised by WHO, plans to answer-namely, what research is needed to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015?'

The editorial concludes: 'As global poverty worsens, economic inequalities deepen, and social exclusion increases, it is vital that health workers everywhere refocus their research efforts to deliver sustainable systems of care for the most vulnerable populations of the world. We need a clear set of priorities-a new set of grand challenges, perhaps-for research, together with new funding to support this programme. The next 12 months and beyond will be the acid test of our collective moral commitment.'
-end-


Lancet

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