Intended for healthcare professionals


Partnerships for child health: capitalising on links between the sustainable development goals

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 23 January 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k125
  1. Yulia Blomstedt, researcher1,
  2. Zulfiqar A Bhutta, professor2 3,
  3. Johan Dahlstrand, researcher4,
  4. Peter Friberg, professor45,
  5. Lawrence O Gostin, professor6,
  6. Måns Nilsson, professor7 8,
  7. Nelson K Sewankambo, professor9,
  8. Göran Tomson, professor4 10 11,
  9. Tobias Alfvén, associate professor4 11 12
  1. 1Epidemiology and Global Health Unit, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
  2. 2Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan
  3. 3Centre for Global Child Health, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada
  4. 4Swedish Institute for Global Health Transformation (SIGHT), Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden5Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  5. 6O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC, USA
  6. 7Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
  7. 8KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden
  8. 9Makerere University, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences, Uganda
  9. 10Departments of Learning, Informatics, Management, Ethics, and Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  10. 11Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  11. 12Sachs’ Children and Youth Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to: T Alfvén tobias.alfven{at}

Yulia Blomstedt and colleagues evaluate the opportunities to improve child health through cross sector collaboration

In 2015 the UN General Assembly adopted the sustainable development goals (SDGs) as part of a transformative universal framework for global development: the 2030 agenda.1 Since the goals are interconnected,23456 they have to be tackled in an integrated way. As well as ensuring that goals are reached efficiently, integration can avoid adverse effects from action to meet other targets and highlight trade-offs.4

Integrated action relies on national and international partnerships with a broad range of organisations—including national governments, local authorities, international institutions, business, civil society organisations, foundations, philanthropists, social impact investors, scientists, and citizens.7 However, it is not always clear who should partner with whom and on what grounds. Making these decisions—and developing integrated action plans, strategies, and policies—requires an understanding of the patterns of interaction between SDGs.

We use the example of child health to explore how assessment of the links between SDGs can be used to guide multisectoral partnerships. The importance of partnerships within the health sector is well established for child health, given the role of maternal health and nutrition in stillbirths, newborn health, and survival, as well as early child growth and development. By contrast, partnerships with other sectors have received much less attention. Efforts to include social determinants of health in development of health systems and public health have begun to provide crucial information. For example, the health in all policies (HiAP)8 initiative assessed multisectoral public policies, their health implications, synergies, and potential adverse outcomes. The SDGs offer a new opportunity for collaboration between the health sector and the rest of society and, hopefully, the momentum to move from mostly talk to action.

SDG links as lever for improved child health strategies

The connections between child health (0-18 years old) …

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