In 2015, countries adopted the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), each of which has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. The SDGs include one health goal and over 50 health-related targets which are applicable to all countries, irrespective of their level of development. It is essential that we track progress towards these targets in all countries – a mammoth task in itself.
One of the key roles of the World Health Organization (WHO) is to monitor global health trends. The World Health Statistics series, published annually since 2005, is WHO’s annual snapshot of the state of the world’s health. Since 2016, the World Health Statistics series has focused on monitoring progress towards the SDGs and this 2018 edition contains the latest available data for 36 health-related SDG indicators.
The story it tells is that while we have made remarkable progress on several fronts, huge challenges remain if we are to reach the targets for health we have set ourselves. In some areas progress has stalled and the gains we have made could easily be lost.
Under-five mortality has improved dramatically – yet each and every day in 2016, 15 000 children died before reaching their fifth birthday. After unprecedented global gains in malaria control, progress has stalled because of a range of challenges, including a lack of sustainable and predictable funding. And while the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes or cancer has decreased since 2000, an estimated 13 million people under the age of 70 still died due to these diseases in 2016.
Maintaining the momentum towards the SDGs is only possible if countries have the political will and the capacity to prioritize regular, timely and reliable data collection to guide policy decisions and public health interventions. I care about outcomes and about accountability and I want to ensure that WHO, together with our partners, is doing all we can to get countries on track to reach the SDGs.
The WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work is designed to do exactly that. At its heart are the ambitious “triple billion” targets: one billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage (UHC); one billion more people better protected from health emergencies; and one billion more people enjoying better health and well-being.
To keep ourselves accountable, we have developed an “Impact Framework” for the 13th General Programme of Work, aligned with the SDGs. This will allow us to measure the only progress that really matters: less death and disease, and more healthy living for everyone, everywhere.
World health statistics 2018 signals WHO’s continued commitment to work with Member States and all partners to ensure WHO provides the most trusted health-related data that are up to date, disaggregated and disseminated in an open manner, and widely used. These data are an essential resource to achieve the health- related SDGs and UHC. Robust health metrics, improved and focused measurement, and use of evidence and research are high priorities in the WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work. The Health Metrics and Measurement cluster works across WHO as the hub streamlining the flow of data from Member States and within the Organization, reducing the reporting burden on Member States, and coordinating research activities. For the first time in the World Health Statistics series, World health statistics 2018 provides labels to help users understand the types of data in the report. It also includes many updated data series as well as new indicators, and Part 3 is organized around WHO’s new priority areas of work: UHC, health emergencies, and healthier populations. Our ultimate goal is to support countries to make ethical and evidence-informed decisions to maximize health gains for their populations. Sincere thanks are extended to all who helped in collecting, processing and presenting these data at the country, regional and headquarters levels. World health statistics 2018 could not have been produced without this enormous dedicated collective effort.
World health statistics 2018 is the world’s summary of health-related data produced through concerted engagement with WHO Member States. The report helps us to understand where data or estimates are available and, conversely, where we lack insights. We are at a pivotal moment to reset the global health data agenda and ensure continued focus on measuring the health-related SDG indicators. Improving data collection at the source, strengthening country capacity for data analysis and use, and introducing innovations in data capture, analysis and dissemination are WHO’s primary objectives in the 13th General Programme of Work. In the coming years, we will support country-level capacity- strengthening through essential tools and public goods that focus on the fundamentals for reliable statistics. We will improve statistical analysis, expand support for the curation and dissemination of national data, strengthen civil registration and vital statistics systems, and promote the availability of timely and quality data for the SDG era. We look forward to engaging with Member States and partners on this journey to 2030, to ensure health for all.
- Read the report
- Progress towards SDGs – key data from World Health Statistics 2018
- Browse the SDG data visualizations dashboard
- ANNEX A: Summaries of selected health-related SDG indicators
- ANNEX B: Tables of health-related SDG statistics by country, WHO region and globally
- ANNEX C: WHO regional groupings
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