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Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland is a former prime minister of Norway and has been a leading voice on the environment

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7124.7k (Published 03 January 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:7
  1. Fiona Godlee

    What do you see as the major health challenges of the next five years, and how should the WHO address them?

    We must promote equity in health care and never waiver in our pursuance of the highest attainable standard of health for all peoples. Today's gaps in health between geographical areas, social groups, races, and sexes must be narrowed, and women and children must be a major concern. To obtain more equity we must give priority to primary health care of good quality, which must be made available and affordable to all. Essential primary health care includes treatment by trained staff and availability of essential drugs. It comprises preventive and environmental health such as clean water, clean air, and sewage.

    The WHO should develop its capacity to give guidance on health policy organisation and financing of health systems. Renewed weight must be given to anticipation and prevention of disease. The struggle against many communicable diseases is underfunded and must be raised on the political agenda. The WHO should also be in the forefront in setting standards, training, and research. It should be the lead agency with regard to countering new and re-emerging diseases, not least those connected with globalisation, changing lifestyles, and environmental problems. While the WHO itself …

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