Webinar on “COVID19: Are the SDGs at risk?” Key takeaways

“We should see the SDGs as a lighthouse,  not a burden,” – 

Dr. Ricardo Baptista Leite, Member of Parliament in Portugal and Founder and President of UNITE 

On May 18, UNITE, together with German Health Alliance, held the first webinar to discuss the topic of global health financing to understand how parliamentarians can secure SDGs in the pandemic. The speakers were Dr. Ricardo Baptista Leite from UNITE and Dessislava Dimitrova from World Economic Forum under the lead of Prof. Dr. Andrew Ullmann, Member of GermanParliament, and Roland Göhde, Chairman of the Board at German Health Alliance. The webinar welcomed more than 150+ participants from around the world. Take a read at the key takeaways from the webinar. 

The current COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in both its scale and impact. While fighting the pandemic, we are realizing the true scale of the social and economic crisis. The world is noticing a tremendous setback as an increase in global poverty, rising malaria mortality rates, and increasing violence against women.

It is certainly of utmost importance for the political leaders to concentrate their efforts to fight the pandemic. The priority now is to save lives and the world we will be living in tomorrow. Parliamentarians should become a key voice in securing resources for the crucial SDG activities. Otherwise, our future is at risk.

The urgency to act has never been greater before:

  • Developing sustainable financing for global health. The SDGs are at risk because of the economic impact of the pandemic. Therefore, we need to find new ways of financing global health in a more sustainable way and using innovative approaches. Health solutions essential for economic recovery
  • Focusing on Primary Health Care: Strengthening primary health care is a fundamental step towards achieving universal health coverage for all and the health-related SDGs. Parliamentarians need to understand the importance of integrated health systems; increasing access to primary care. 
  • Get Communities involved: Communities are driving change and therefore play a pivotal role in reaching the SDGs. Parliamentarians need to raise awareness about the SDGs and translate them into goals that people can understand and identify with. In order to do so we have to break them down into the local level.
  • Strengthening local governments: Strengthening local governments is pivotal. Municipalities make decisions that directly effect people as the social determinants of health are all implemented on the local level. The transformation begins on the ground. Our societies need to recognize the importance of local decision making and foster local economies.
  • Showing leadership and willingness to act: In this crucial time, we need enhanced political will and commitment not only to fight the pandemic but to stay on track with the SDGs. Parliamentarians need to ensure transparency and accountability, making sure that the voices of civil society and key populations are heard

We were very far from reaching the SDGs before the pandemic, now it has just become more challenging. But we cannot lose sight of them as they are relevant for the response and recovery from the crisis. While we are currently experiencing several setbacks in our efforts to achieve them due to the far-reaching side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we, as parliamentarians, need to stay committed to developing sustainable recovery strategy, and build a healthier, safer, fairer and a more prosperous world.

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