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World Health Summit

Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the World Health Summit in Berlin, 16 October 2018.

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I am very pleased to be here today at this important event, together with so many leaders, innovators and experts on global health 

On our agenda are three key priorities for my Government:

global health, the Sustainable Development Goals, and innovation.

To me, it makes good sense to highlight these three themes, as they are interlinked.

The health SDG has a huge bearing on progress on the other SDGs.

Innovation is key to progress on all the SDGs

I am very pleased that Dr Tedros is presenting the Global Action Plan for Healthy lives and Well-being here today.

This plan was called for by Chancellor Merkel, President Akufo-Addo of Ghana and myself.

We welcome the fact that 10 of the leading organisations in global health have contributed to the plan.

I strongly encourage these stakeholders to stay committed to this process.

We are not done yet.

The plan is a vital tool for accelerating progress on SDG3 and the related targets.

Its comprehensive approach could also serve as a guide and inspiration for other concerted efforts in the overall SDG campaign.

An important element in the plan is stocktaking where we are on track, and where we need to step up our efforts.

Not surprisingly, some of the biggest gaps between our ambitions and the current status are on targets that require action across sectors.

Everything is related to everything else.

As Co-chair of the UN Secretary-General’s SDG Advocacy Group, it is evident to me that progress on one goal will reinforce progress on other goals.

For example, succeeding in building strong institutions, SDG 16, will go a long way towards financing SDGs 1 through 4.

I would like to focus on one cross-sector area that is particularly close to my heart: health and education.

A healthy and well-educated population is essential for social and economic development.

Health and nutrition are crucial for good learning outcomes.

Sick and undernourished children simply learn less.

Their attendance drops due to sickness.

And this becomes a negative spiral.

However, it also works the other way around:

Education, and in particular girls’ education, has a strong impact on health.

We know that educated girls are more likely to be well nourished during pregnancy.

They have fewer and healthier children, and better chances of sending their children to school.

And they are in a better position to take care of themselves and to make a living.

To be independent and take part in society at all levels.

That is what I call sustainable development.

This pays off.

One dollar invested in an additional year of schooling for girls generates health benefits of close to 10 dollars in low-income countries.

Educating more girls leads to more health workers, as this is an important sector for women’s employment in many countries.

This leads to the third priority: innovation, which is crucial if we are to reach our education and health goals.

The health sector is known for innovation.

We have come to expect a steady stream of new medicines.

But modern technologies and medicines are not always affordable or accessible for all.

We must therefore think differently.

Let me give you some examples of innovations that can save and change lives:

Digitalisation makes it possible to transfer money without cash.

Transactions are tracked and registered.

This can help reduce corruption and provide vital data for planning and setting priorities. 

The University of Oslo has pioneered the district health information system, which is now used in more than 70 countries for more than 2 billion people.

The Norwegian telecom company Telenor is providing big data to predict the spread of epidemics based on population movements, and it is also making birth registration possible through mobile phones.

A study in Pakistan shows the important impact of giving small cash incentives through mobile phones to encourage women to vaccinate their children.

Vaccine coverage has doubled.

In Bangladesh, private contributions to health insurance are being paid through mobile phones.

The Laerdal Foundation is providing digital training and various technologies to save one million mothers and newborn children by 2030.

When it comes to innovation in health, Norway is proud of being a long-standing co-investor in Grand Challenges through the Saving Lives at Birth initiative.

Education is also about saving lives.

About building a future.

Innovation in the education sector, however, has been lagging behind.

Fortunately, the digital revolution is now changing this, and a number of innovations in education are currently being tested and scaled.

Right now, the Norwegian game-based learning app Kahoot is being made available to more than 50 million pupils around the world.

The Norwegian robot AV1 helps children who are too sick to attend school themselves.

The robot becomes their eyes and ears in the classroom.

Picking up the latest knowledge their friends are learning.

And the latest jokes!

Ladies and gentlemen,

If we believe that we have good ideas for improving global health, we must invest in them.

And we must invest wisely. Improving global health requires innovative financing.

The devastating Ebola outbreak in West Africa demonstrated the need for new tools against epidemics.

Together with Germany, Japan, the Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, we initiated the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation. CEPI is now up and running with close to 750 million dollars of commitments for the first five years.

The clear aim is to develop vaccines against known and unknown viruses.

The Global Financing Facility, GFF, is an important innovative financing mechanism. It takes a cross-sector approach, addressing health, family planning and nutrition in consolidated national plans.

And it is tailor-made for sustainability because it involves countries’ ministries of finance and domestic financing.

All countries need to invest in a sustainable future for their population.

And the GFF encourages just that.

A recent study showed that 2.6 billion dollars from the GFF can mobilise 50-75 billion dollars from other resources, primarily domestic.

This, in turn, can help to save 35 million women’s and children’s lives by 2030.

The GFF is in demand.

It has helped establish investment platforms in 27 countries, most of which are low-income, vulnerable countries; and another 23 have requested partnership.

I invite everyone who would like to contribute to the GFF to join me at the replenishment conference next month.

Frankly, I can see no better reason for visiting Oslo in November!

Dear friends,

Every year, more than 5 million women, children and adolescents die from preventable causes.

That’s equivalent to the entire population of Norway.

We cannot leave any women, children or adolescents behind.

We cannot afford to underfund their health and nutrition. 

Investments in health, nutrition and education are fundamental for social and economic development.

Without these investments, we simply will not reach the SDGs.

And unnecessary loss of life and opportunity will continue.

If we are going to do something about this daily global injustice to women and children, then the world must put the health, education, and equality of women at the centre of development.

Aid must act as a catalyst. We must seek innovative solutions.

Our investments must encourage and foster innovation.

We all recognise that the SDG agenda is ambitious.

Only by working together and making the smartest investments, will we be able to make this giant, but crucial, leap for humanity.

Thank you.

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