According to The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out four years of progress on poverty eradication and pushed 93 million people into extreme poverty. It also disrupted essential health services and forced 24 million students out of school.

The window of opportunity is rapidly closing to prevent further setbacks on the SDGs and protect the systems that keep our communities healthy, prosperous, and safe. As we approach 2023 — the halfway point to the 2030 deadline for the SDGs — time is running out for global leaders to make a down payment on a healthier and more secure future for all.

World leaders are understandably preoccupied with interconnected and complex crises, from climate change to food insecurity to conflict. But as the shockwaves of this pandemic continue to reverberate around the world, we must reckon with reality: Our collective health is foundational to every aspect of life and integral to all 17 SDGs. We can no longer afford to underfund the very systems, people, and resources that work to keep us healthy and prevent future health threats.

Political leaders can take two steps to end this pandemic and avert future pandemic threats.

  1. Pandemic-proof the world to ensure a healthier, more secure future The COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to cost the global economy $12.5 trillion and will continue to cause economic aftershocks for the next decade, according to the International Monetary Fund. Considering these long-term impacts, financing new solutions must go beyond short-term political cycles and re-imagine pandemic prevention and preparedness as an investment, rather than an expense.
  2.  Sustain investments in proven collective action We have proof that investments in multilateral health partnerships are critical to addressing the epidemics and health threats of today, while also advancing the goal of health for all. Over the past 20 years, the world has made remarkable progress in stemming the tide of leading infectious killers of children and young people, thus increasing global life expectancy by six years between 2000 and 2019.

Read the full article about addressing our collective health by Dana Mclaughlin at United Nations Foundation.