On November 28, 2017, iGHP had an honor and privilege to invite Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs and his wife Dr. Sonia E. Sachs from Columbia University to give us very informative and inspiring lectures. Needless to say, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs and Dr. Sonia Sachs are the world-renown leaders in the areas of sustainable development and global health. Their dedication and exceptional achievements have been highly celebrated worldwide. It was an opportunity hard to come by to listen to them at iGHP. The topic of our special session was "The Future of Human Development in the Era of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)".
First, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs gave us an introduction to the 17 SDGs and explained them from various perspectives. Today, people are surrounded by a number of hardships and challenges on a global scale, but Prof. Sachs specifically touched on the “Four Great Challenges” that exist in front of us. These include “physical survival, social cohesion, economic inclusion, and political statecraft”. Before concluding his lecture, Prof. Sachs gave us an invaluable piece of advice, especially for those who are young and aspired to become global citizens, how humanity should plan for its future. According to Prof. Sachs, the keys to successful achievements of SDGs must include reduction of carbon energy transmission, building sustainable cities around the world, development of sustainable agriculture and effective land use, quality and equitable health care and education for all, and realization of innovative and inclusive societies.
Dr. Sonia Sachs is an experienced pediatrician as well as public health specialist. Since 2004, she has been working at the Earth Institute as the health coordinator for the Millennium Villages Project overseeing all health related interventions and research. Dr. Sachs’ presentation was focused on “Achieving SDG 3 in Low-income Settings” particularly from maternal and child health (MCH) perspectives. According to Dr. Sachs, each year 6.1million children under the age of five die from various kinds of ill health conditions, and half a million women die during the periods of pregnancy or childbirth. Dr. Sachs said many issues of MCH in resource-poor settings are preventable as well as treatable, therefore, she emphasized the importance of strengthening primary health care systems at local levels. She presented a successful example of national strategy practiced in Ghana, where the mobile health system and scale-up of professionalized child health workers were implemented. In concluding her lecture, Dr. Sachs gave us a take-home message that universal health coverage (UHC) is achievable as long as we could design and develop sound strategies and plan effective interventions, as well as utilize the appropriate technologies and tools including ICT by using the funds available.
Through these special lectures, we learned that it is important for all of us stakeholders to be actively involved in the existing issues, and to encourage each other to take collective actions for the betterment of global health and well-being of the people across the world.