The Lancet: Framing an agenda for children thriving in the SDG era: a WHO–UNICEF–Lancet Commission on Child Health and Wellbeing

11 January, 2019

Citation and selected extracts below. Full text here:


CITATION: Comment| volume 393, issue 10167, p109-112, January 12, 2019

Framing an agenda for children thriving in the SDG era: a WHO–UNICEF–Lancet Commission on Child Health and Wellbeing

Awa Coll-Seck et al.

Published:November 02, 2018


A multisectoral approach that addresses all the determinants (social, economic, cultural, political, environmental, and commercial) of child health and wellbeing resonates with the SDGs' promotion of an integrated approach to global social and economic development. There is increasing recognition, for example, of the importance of early life determinants (stimulation, socialisation, and a stable, clean environment) on child social and economic potential over the life course. The 2016 Lancet early child development Series reported that 250 million children (43%) younger than 5 years in LMICs are at risk of not reaching their developmental potential,6 with widespread consequent impacts. Further, WHO estimates that 27% of all child deaths now arise from environmental causes and almost 90% of the world's children do not breathe clean air. Clean water and sanitation remain beyond the reach of billions of people, and conflict and insecurity affect the domestic stability of and access to health care, good nutrition, and early child education for many children globally. Coordinated action across multiple sectors is required for all children to be able to develop their maximum potential in every country and community. All nations aspire to see their children develop and flourish as a human right and as the basis for a strong economy. In this context, there is a need for guidance and agreement on maximising child health and wellbeing in the SDG era.

In response to this need, and after reviews of several global child health approaches and policies, WHO and UNICEF have initiated a Lancet Commission on Child Health and Wellbeing, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Commission's findings will be published as a report in The Lancet, expected in 2019. The Commissioners are drawn from every geographical region and from disciplines including maternal and child health, nursing, nutrition, epidemiology, human rights, education, environmental and political science, economics, anthropology, and social science...

This Commission will take a whole of government approach, addressing health and development beyond mortality, and will encapsulate children's perspectives and visions. Of course, context is key. The problems facing Nigeria, Nicaragua, and the Netherlands are different. But there are commonalities. The Commission will focus on the “how to” as opposed to the “what”, the process rather than content. This approach will go beyond a focus on national and ministry decision making. Districts and communities are where multisectoral approaches work best. And community engagement is critical to success; we intend to capture the views, hopes, and dreams of children and young people. At the same time, country ownership and political leadership are necessary. Our Commission will be mindful to align with country level planning processes that address realities on the ground. The methods and findings of the Commission will be inclusive, participatory, and incorporate the perspectives of adolescents and other constituencies, as appropriate...


Best wishes, Neil

CHIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is the coordinator of the HIFA campaign (Healthcare Information For All) and assistant moderator of the CHIFA forum. He is current chair of the Dgroups Foundation (, which supports 700 communities of practice for international development, social justice and global health. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: