Intended for healthcare professionals

Education And Debate

New global Health for All targets

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 11 September 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:700
  1. Loes M van Herten, epidemiologist (,
  2. Harry P A van de Water, public health physician
  1. Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) Prevention and Health, PO Box 2215, 2301 CE Leiden, Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to: Loes M van Herten
  • Accepted 4 May 1999

In May 1998, the World Health Organisation adopted a resolution in support of the new global Health for All policy.1 The new policy, Health for All in the 21st Century,2 succeeds the Health for All by the Year 2000 strategy launched in 1977.3 The renewal of Health for All, concurrent with the 50th anniversary of the WHO and the appointment of a new director general, offers a unique opportunity for the organisation to re-establish its purpose. In the new policy, the worldwide call for social justice is elaborated in key values, goals, objectives, and targets. The 10 global health targets are the most concrete end points to be pursued. They can be divided into three subgroups (see box)—four health outcome targets, two targets on determinants of health, and four targets on health policies and sustainable health systems. All member states are supposed to set their own targets within this framework, based on their specific needs and priorities.

Presenting the new policy at the World Health Assembly was the first step in the renewal of the Health for All movement. The development of indicators for some of the targets and the promotion of the Health for All policy in all member states formed the next steps in the process.4 There are two main aims behind the Health for All in the 21st Century programme. Firstly, the WHO wants to develop a shared vision by listing the 10 most important health issues. Secondly, the organisation wants to formulate 10 targets to motivate all member states to take action and to set priorities for resource allocation. To fulfil these aims the WHO sought to include in the new targets components that were inspirational and achievable.

Summary points

The renewal of the Health for All strategy represents a further call for social …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription