National Academy of Medicine

Seeking Synergy: New Perspectives on Addressing Interrelated Global Health and Development Problems

By John M. Balbus, Judith Wasserheit
October 18, 2012 | Commentary

In September 2000, the United Nations (UN) Millennium Declaration established the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to accelerate efforts to reduce extreme poverty and related barriers to human development. At the Rio+20 World Summit on Sustainable Development, the UN decided to embark on a process to develop Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are intended to come into effect in 2015, the target date of the MDGs.

As we approach 2015, people around the world face an increasingly complex set of environmental, economic, and health challenges. Since 2000, a number of disturbing, potentially interrelated trends have emerged with greater clarity. For example, more than half of the world’s population now lives in cities, and that number is expected to grow to 70 percent by 2050 (WHO, 2012a). Noncommunicable diseases, including diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer, now claim more lives around the world than infectious diseases (UN General Assembly, 2011). At the same time, evidence has grown for the interconnectedness of the environment, economic development, and human health.



Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily of the authors’ organizations, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies). The paper is intended to help inform and stimulate discussion. It is not a report of the NAM or the National Academies. Copyright by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.