Improving Linkages between Health and Education

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© UNESCO

On Saturday 26 September, Assistant Director-General for Education, Qian Tang, spoke at a United Nations side event titled Financing Health and Education: Girls driving development. The event, hosted by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, UNICEF, UNAIDS and the Global Partnership on Education, was organised to address strategies for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. It brought together high-level political representatives, including heads of state and government, ministers of finance, ministers of health, ministers of education and development partners to share concrete examples of best practice between sectors and generate proposals to ensure improved collaboration at country level.

The Assistant Director-General offered concrete examples of intersectoral collaboration that UNESCO is involved with. The ‘Young People Today, Time to Act Now’ initiative in East and Southern Africa (ESA) is led by ministries of health and education from the ESA region and supported by the United Nations, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC). It aims to improve the lives of young people with sexuality education and health services in 21 countries. Nearly two years since its launch, the initiative has galvanised leadership and spurred stronger action in support of comprehensive sexuality education, sexual and reproductive health and rights.

He also recalled that In April 2000, at the World Education Forum in Dakar, WHO, UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank jointly launched Focusing Resources on Effective School Health: a FRESH Start to Enhancing the Quality and Equity of Education. The FRESH framework and partners have helped raise awareness on and support for the need for multi-sectoral policies that involves education, healthcare, water, sanitation, agriculture, and food security among others.

The event ended with participants committing to effective investments in health and education, with a focus gender equity and equality. Participants stressed that these should be accompanied by targets and monitoring efforts to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals are met.