26 September 2015
NEW YORK - Partners in global health and education today called for more effective collaboration between the health and education sectors to improve the lives of millions of girls and women in low- and lower-middle-income countries.
In an event co-hosted by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, UNICEF, UNAIDS and the Global Partnership for Education, participants stressed the need for adequate financing in health and education to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. They also proposed joint action to maximize impact and returns on investment – starting with initiatives for adolescent girls and young women.
“Investing in education, especially girls’ education, delivers improved health outcomes – and investing in children’s health improves their ability to learn,” said Julia Gillard, Board Chair of the Global Partnership for Education. “These mutually-reinforcing benefits are invaluable and accrue to succeeding generations.”
Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund, said: “Education and health will ultimately shape the opportunities a girl has to thrive and reach her full potential when she becomes a woman. When linked together, health and education can change communities and change the world.”
In the hardest-hit countries, girls account for more than 80 percent of all new HIV infections among adolescents. There is strong evidence to show that keeping adolescent girls and young women in school not only reduces HIV infection rates but has the potential to create a critical mass of healthy, educated and financially independent women who make well-informed choices about their lives.
"Health unlocks education, and education unlocks health," said Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education.
A study recently published in the Lancet showed that secondary schooling might be as good an HIV investment as male circumcision. The study found that each additional year reduced HIV risk by 8 percentage points in Botswana.
“If we work to ensure that every girl and boy has health and education, we will ensure that every woman and man has equal opportunity,” Dr. Dybul said, adding that building resilient and sustainable systems for health and advancing gender equality were essential to achieving impact and sustainability.
Today's event brought together experts in health and education, ministers and government representatives, civil society and international organizations to discuss how girls can drive development through health and education.
The participants committed to continue their engagement, invest in girls’ health and education, focus joint efforts on what works and set realistic and equity-focused targets and monitor success.