Letter to the editor: Global health needs exemplary attention


    The health of the world community is in a precarious state. Today, more than 20 million people die each year due to global health inequities [1] and more than 150 million people per year face unaffordable healthcare costs [2]. 

At the turn of the millennium some world leaders sought to address health challenges by creating the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which aimed to alleviate poverty and improve global health by the year 2015. While the MDGs put global health on the map, they have been an ineffective framework for global health. World leaders still fail to allocate proper health resources, and citizens still fail to understand their rights to healthcare. 

We have the opportunity to change this. On October 25th, 2014, 15,000 people in 160+ communities across the globe came together for the first-ever Global Day of Action for the Right to Health [3]. The 25th Article of the UN Declaration of Human Rights reads, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family,” and on October 25th people around the world stood up to make this right a universal reality. 

This movement comes at a critical moment. Since the UN General Assembly last month, world leaders have begun negotiations on a new set of post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. The coming months present an opportunity to demand that world leaders make health a priority. This commitment, made at the highest levels, would drive national and local policy agendas to make the right to health a reality. 

Fourteen years ago, good intentions were made through the MDGs. Yet, maternal health still suffers. Children go to schools with no desks or supplies. Programs like PEPFAR support AIDS treatment but not comprehensive sex education. Good intentions are not good enough. What good is building hospitals with no doctors to fill them? What good is creating medications that aren’t affordable? What good is failing to address that health is a human right? This is a global injustice. This needs to stop. To hell with good, this calls for exemplary. 


[1] J Garay, L Harris, M Beam, S Zompi. “Global Inequity Death Toll: Targeting global health equity and estimating the burden of inequity.” APHA Meeting. Nov 2-6, 2013

[2] Global Health Observatory. “Health Financing.” World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/gho/health_financing/en/ (accessed Apr 25,2014)

[3] see http://join25.org/oct25/ for more details