Despite significant progress during recent decades, some 5.4 million children under the age of five continue to die around the world each year – 15,000 every day – largely from preventable causes. Addressing preventable mortality should go hand in hand with preventing needless morbidity in order to set every child off on the best start in life – regardless of where they live. Broader social determinants of child health – gender inequality, education, climate and the environment, safety, early childhood development, freedom – play a pivotal role in enhancing wellbeing and availing livelihood opportunities.
A key priority in Sweden’s development agenda, improving the health of children locally and globally, requires contributions that are inter- and multidisciplinary in scope and grounded in evidence. In 2019 the network contributed to the development of a road map on global child health, encouraging the global community to harness the interlinking potential of the SDGs in order to accelerate progress whilst paying attention to priority areas.
In 2018, Government Offices of Sweden launched a framework for Sweden’s work on global health –implementing the 2030 Agenda. For its implementation thematic Swedish Networks for Global Health grew organically. The added value of these networks is the enabling of multisectoral and interdisciplinary collaboration around global health, allowing a large number of Swedish actors to come together through coordinated and joint action.
In 2017, the Swedish Network for Global Child Health was initiated. The network coordinators are Karolinska Institutet and UNICEF. A steering group is under formation and will support the coordinator in the strategic development of the network and in the initiation of activities. SIGHT supports the overall work with the Swedish Networks for Global Health and stimulates synergies between thematic areas and networks.
Within the long standing bilateral collaboration between University of Rwanda (UR) and the Swedish Government (Sida), 17 sub-programs are carried through. One of these will be presented in this network meeting, titled Undernutrition – an interdisciplinary research program focusing on children and their mothers.
Five Swedish universities are involved with the College of Medicine and Health Sciences, UR, these are University of Gothenburg, Umeå University, SLU, Södertörn and Lund Universities.
During the session, the research program was described, with its aims and progress so far. Four interlinked projects are to be carried through and were presented by:
Gunilla Krantz, MD, Professor (coordinator Swedish side) and Kristina Elfving (supervisor), Pediatrician, Senior consultant, MD, PhD
Comments were given by the Ambassador to Rwanda in Sweden, Mrs Diane Gashumba, former Minister of Health in Rwanda.
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UNICEF Office of Innovation joined the network meeting with a presentation of their mission and their health portfolios.The centre opened up in Sweden recently. UNICEF and Sweden will cooperate to build a robust global innovation ecosystem working towards a brighter world for every child. This includes engaging Swedish businesses, academia and civil society who are collectively delivering international development assistance with a lens on sustainability and innovation. Access the presentation here: