In the face of rising humanitarian, health and social crises haunting today’s children, achieving the SDGs becomes a daunting task. The Knowledge to Policy (K2P) Center at Faculty of Health Sciences at the American University of Beirut - as the only commissioners from the Lebanon and the region - hosted the second WHO UNICEF Lancet Commission on the Realignment of Child Health for the SDG Era meeting within AUB’s premises from the 3rd till the 5th of November, aiming to present a scientifically-founded human, environmental and financial case for placing child health centrally within the SDG agenda.
Along with distinguished Commissioners, who are global experts in their fields, the WHO UNICEF Lancet Commission on the Realignment of Child Health for the SDG Era is chaired by the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Dr. Helen Clark, and the Senegalese Minister of State, Dr. Awa Marie Coll Seck and led by Dr. Anshu Banerjee, the acting Director of the Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Department in WHO, Headquarters; and Dr. Stefan Peterson, the Chief of Health in UNICEF, Headquarters. In his opening speech, Dean Iman Nuwayhid, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), welcomed all commissioners to Lebanon and explained how this meeting and this commission align with the FHS mission, the first public health school in Lebanon and the region. In addition, he underscored the need of the Commission’s report to address the impact of war and conflict on the health and wellbeing of children and the challenges and suffering that refugee and displaced children undergo. Dr. Fadi El-Jardali, Director of the Knowledge to Policy (K2P) Center underlined the fact that: “the presence of high profile global experts in Beirut discussing children wellbeing highlights its importance globally and for the MENA Region in particular, given the dire challenges this region faces. It also ascertains the value that K2P Center sees in advocating for child health and well being”.
Globally realizing children wellbeing, even the most vulnerable, is the gateway for a more sustainable future as ascertained by the Honorable Helen Clark: “the importance of these deliberations is that it reaches to the lost generations that arise in times of conflict, not only in the time of their sickness but more importantly on their wellbeing, which will eventually help to achieve the SDGs”. In this regard, focusing on multi-sectoral actions to achieve these goals was the focus of the discussion, Ms. Rana Saleh, the Advocacy Lead Specialist at K2P Center and one of the commissioners emphasized that “achieving child wellbeing in its broader sense should not be seen as only the Health sector responsibility, if we aim to achieve the SDGs by 2030, multisectoral action becomes a must”.
The Commissioners worked in groups to address governance and leadership; how to support different sectors to work in harmony; economic priorities; data and accountability; and policies focused on households and communities. The meeting aimed to produce the next draft of the Commission Report for publication in The Lancet in 2019, and plan the ways in which countries can speed up their policies and plans to make faster progress.