United Nations Development Group promotes Health 2020 in guidance note to country teams

The strategies and priorities of WHO’s Health 2020 policy framework should be integrated into national development agendas, according to a recent Guidance Note from the United Nations Development Group (UNDG). The note, written to UN Country Teams (UNCT) in September 2014,also seeks to ensure that NCD prevention and control and efforts to address the Social Determinants of Health (SDH) are included.

UNDAF Guidance Note

The UNDG regularly informs UNCTs of common strategic objectives and priorities through Guidance Notes written within its UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), the strategic programme framework for UNCTs. With this Guidance Note, the UNDG’s goal is to address social determinants of health (SDH) and noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs), while simultaneously positioning health higher within the context of social and sustainable development.

“Health issues are recognized and reflected in all development processes,” said Cihan Sultanoglu, Chair for the Regional UNDG Team for Europe and central Asia. “There is a growing interest among Member States in the implementation of the European Policy Framework, Health 2020, which addresses the relationship between socioeconomic factors and health outcomes. Most importantly, sustainable development cannot be achieved without considering health issues.”

The Guidance Note outlines the steps involved for UNCTs to develop a UNDAF, and offers tangible and specific ways to incorporate the Health 2020, SDH and NCD focus within each step. It details areas of potential cooperation with WHO’s policy framework, which consists of: governance; social development; inclusive economic growth; crisis management; climate change and the environment. Moreover, depending on the country context, the guidance note also encourages UNCTs to decide with the Government and civil society whether NCD control and SDH should become a domain of cooperation in its own right.

Health 2020 has the fundamental goal of achieving general and mass well‐being by improving health overall and reducing inequities. The strategic framework focuses on accomplishing this through a collaborative, cross-sectoral approach that empowers individuals to improve their own health. The Guidance Note is one of many steps towards increasing health and well-being through preventative, whole-of-government measures. Through its Guidance Note, the UNDG recognizes that incorporating tactics for better health and well-being into national agendas, UNCTs achieve sustainable, inclusive growth, promote peace, human rights and gender equality.  The guidance also helps to perpetuate Health 2020’s overarching sentiment; that social, institutional, economic and environmental objectives are interdependent, complementary, mutually reinforcing and coherent.


UNCTs are composed of the Heads of UN Agencies, Programmes and Funds at country level, and are coordinated by the UN Resident Coordinator. Typically, United Nations Agencies such as Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); International Labour Organization (ILO); and WHO work together with UN Programmes and Funds such as the UN Development Programme (UNDP); UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF); UN Population Fund (UNFPA); and the World Food Programme (WFP) within the UNDAF strategic framework at country level.