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UNDP’s mandate for health and development

In line with its Strategic Plan 2018-2021 and HIV, Health & Development Strategy 2016-2021, UNDP’s work on health contributes to its broader commitment to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities, strengthen effective and inclusive governance, and build resilient and sustainable systems for health.

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UNDP Strategic Plan 2018 - 2021

UNDP’s vision for the Strategic Plan 2018-2021 is

“To help countries to achieve sustainable development by eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, accelerating structural transformations for sustainable development and building resilience to crises and shocks”.

The Strategic Plan outlines how UNDP will work to

1. Eradicate poverty in all its forms and dimensions through multisectoral, integrated solutions for the provision of adequate employment and incomes for men and women, addressing structural barriers to women’s economic empowerment and providing basic social protection and effective services and infrastructure.

2. Accelerate structural transformations for sustainable development by addressing inequalities and exclusion, transitioning to zero-carbon development, leveraging technological advances, and building more effective governance systems.

3. Build resilience to shocks and crises through providing support to governments to increase their abilities to manage risk proactively and strengthen resilience to future crises—including strengthening national capacities for crisis response, climate change adaptation, disaster early warning and risk reduction, and post-crisis recovery.

The primary role of UNDP is to support country-led efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The breadth of expertise and country presence of UNDP puts it in a unique position within the UN System to help countries to “connect the dots” on some of the most complex sustainable development issues. So it is well placed to support countries in tackling the interconnected underlying determinants that drive progress in health and which require simultaneous action in the social, environmental, and economic spheres of development.

UNDP helps governments and development partners to work together to promote comprehensive responses and assists countries to formulate their national development strategies and align them with the Sustainable Development Goals. UNDP partners with governments, including ministries of planning and finance, and with law-making bodies, the civil society, the private sector, and citizens, among other key stakeholders, to achieve these goals.

the SDGs provide the framework for action, there are as yet no comprehensive, widely applicable systems or methodologies for integrated approaches to interconnected development challenges. Helping countries to build such approaches is one of the key objectives of UNDP’s Strategic Plan, 2018-2021. This includes using its unique function as an integrator and connector: UNDP promotes coordination to harness the comparative advantages of the wider United Nations Development System (UNDS) system and bring together governments with citizens, the private sector, civil society, and other partners to drive progress towards the SDGs.

UNDP’s HIV, Health and Development Strategy 2016-2021

UNDP’s commitment to address HIV and other major health challenges is based on the principle that health is both a driver and outcome of development, and that actions across a wide range of development sectors have a significant impact on health outcomes. The UNDP HIV, Health & Development Strategy 2016-2021: Connecting the Dots outlines its unique contribution to the global health response through its work to reduce inequalities and social exclusion that drive HIV and poor health, promote effective and inclusive governance for health, and build resilient and sustainable systems for health.

A key channel for this work is its support to national governments for the implementation of large-scale health programmes. This includes disease prevention and treatment programmes that target some of the most hard-to-reach populations, as well as activities to strengthen institutions that deliver essential health services in challenging and high-risk country contexts.

Evidence shows that just as health fosters development development fosters health. The conditions in which people live and work, including factors such as poverty, exclusion, inequality, social status, housing and environmental and political conditions, have a major impact on their health and well-being. Healthy people are better able to contribute to the social, political and economic development of their communities and countries. By increasing people’s choices and capabilities to lead healthy and productive lives, investments in health and other areas of development are mutually reinforcing.

Strategy action areas

UNDP’s strategy contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals by addressing the social, economic and environmental determinants of health, health-related inequalities and governance for health.

The strategy encompasses three action areas, each of which includes three priorities:

  1. Action area 1: Reducing inequalities and social exclusion that drive HIV and poor health.
  2. Action area 2: Promoting effective and inclusive governance for health.
  3. Action area 3: Building resilient and sustainable systems for health.

Figure: UNDP HHD Strategy 2016-2021 Action Areas and Key Priorities. In addition, UNDP carries out extensive work to promote sustainable energy solutions. i In addition, UNDP carries out extensive work to promote sustainable energy solutions.

Action area 1

Reducing inequalities and social exclusion that drive HIV and poor health
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Reducing inequalities and social exclusion that drive HIV and poor health. Widening inequalities within and between populations lead to poor health, fuel HIV and other epidemics and hinder sustainable development. Through action in this area, UNDP aims to empower women and girls and increase the capacity of key populations and other excluded groups to realize their health and human rights. This action area also contributes to improvements in participatory governance for health (Action Area 2) and building the resilience of communities and countries to address health-related challenges (Action Area 3).

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Action area 2

Promoting effective and inclusive governance for health
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Institutions and governance structures in many countries are under-resourced, lack capacity and coherence to plan and deliver health and related services, and provide inadequate civic space for the participation of affected groups. Through action to improve law, rights and policy environments, build human and institutional capacity and develop rights-based investment approaches, UNDP aims to strengthen the governance capacity of countries to respond more effectively to health and related development challenges.

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Action area 3

Building resilient and sustainable systems for health
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Chronically weak and fragile systems for health in many countries are highly susceptible to shocks that result from political, economic and health crises and humanitarian and natural disasters. Through the provision of a wide range of implementation support services, the promotion of inclusive social protection programming and attention to the environmental dimensions of systems for health, UNDP aims to build the resilience of countries for sustainable and risk-informed responses to health and other development challenges.

Resilience-building is a key element of UNDP’s work in countries with large-scale health programmes that suffer significant national capacity constraints or that face complex emergencies.

In these countries, UNDP provides extensive implementation support services that are complemented by longer-term capacity-building that includes:

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UNDP’s offer

UNDP’s service offer to countries includes policy and programme support on:

  • implementation and management of large-scale health programmes in countries facing development challenges and complex emergencies
  • developing capacities of national entities in these setting to sustainably manage domestic and international health financing and to deliver health programmes
  • strengthening national health-related policy and programming in challenging operating environments in specific areas of UNDP expertise, including human rights, gender equality, key populations, sustainable financing and procurement of medicines and other health products

Key resources

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