2013: Year of Success in Global Health

2013 marked a year of progress and prospect for global health. In the collaborative effort to end extreme poverty and create growth in developing countries, health plays one of the most important roles. These victories of 2013 create a vision for emerging health care and the impact on development as we enter a new year.

World leaders gathered for the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi to discuss progress achieved and plans for moving forward in the “Decade of Vaccines,” focusing on the importance of building sustainable immunization programs and providing access to children. A significant portion of the conference focused on polio, acknowledging the power of vaccines by recognizing how close we are to declaring the world polio-free. With $4 billion in donor pledges to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, we have seen great progress this year in the number of new cases in Afghanistan and Nigeria. The meeting in Abu Dhabi showed growing leadership, especially in the Middle Eastern and Islamic communities, to build strong vaccination programs and child health worldwide.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI) Alliance confirmed that it was on track to immunize a half-billion children by the end of 2015. Working in 73 developing countries, GAVI strives to deliver affordable and life-saving vaccines against preventable diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea, and meningitis. GAVI also works to strengthen immunization programs and health systems within the countries they work in.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria saw a combined pledge of $12 billion from donors around the world. Since it was founded in 2002, The Global Fund has distributed 360 million insecticide-treated bug nets, provided 6.1 million people with antiretroviral therapy for AIDS, and have tested and treated 11.2 million people for tuberculosis. The $12 billion pledged December 2013 is a 30 percent increase in funding that will bring significant change in the progression of the epidemics.

In November, the International Conference on Family Planning was held in Ethiopia. With over 120 countries represented at the conference, the organization was able to call upon delegates to take action with their governments. Targeting the Millennium Development Goals relating to maternal mortality, access to contraception, high quality family planning and sexual reproductive health services. Focusing on these areas further promotes gender equality and women’s rights. When women are empowered and given the tools to make these decisions, countries will benefit through long-term economic growth. Family planning is a necessary and cost-effective, sustainable investment for nations. In the last year alone, 10 developing countries have adopted separate family planning conferences into their own agendas.

Maris Brummel

Sources: Impatient Optimists, Global Vaccine Summit, The Global Fund, International Conference on Family Planning