Statens Serum Institut (SSI) and the Global Goals
SSI helps bring the world closer to achieving the United Nations (UN) Global Goals.
We may not think about it on a daily basis, but each day SSI and SSI's employees are working to bring the world closer to achieving several of the UN Global Goals.
SSI specifically contributes to Goal 3 to ensure good health and well-being. This goal is well in line with SSI's main task and mission: 'We strengthen health through disease control and research'. Health and well-being is thus deeply integrated in SSI's daily work, both when it comes to infectious disease preparedness, screening for congenital disorders or SSI's research. All activities that are internationally and globally anchored.
One particularly important activity is SSI's vaccine research, aiming to combat some of the world's biggest killers: Tuberculosis and malaria. Also, SSI plays a significant role in the international fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR), partly through SSI’s continuous readiness for infectious diseases, and partly through SSI's central role in the establishing of the new International Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance Solutions (ICARS).
SSI also helps achieve several other goals, i.e. Goal 2: 'Zero Hunger', Goal 12: 'Responsible Consumption and Production', Goal 13: 'Climate Action', Goal 14: 'Life below Water', and Goal 15: 'Life on Land'. SSI's involvement is particularly underlined by the taking over in 2020, together with the University of Copenhagen, of the Danish national veterinary preparedness, in a broad 'One Health' approach.
In the following, the Global Goals will be described as well as how SSI contributes to their achievements.
UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development
UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals, aka 'SDGs', were adopted by all United Nations member states on 25 September 2015 and marked an unprecedented, ambitious agenda to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. The Goals came into effect on 1 January 2016 and set a 15-year plan to address and find solutions by 2030 to some of the most pressing global challenges faced by the world.
The Global Goals consist of 17 goals and 169 targets. The goals and targets oblige all 193 United Nations member states to end global poverty and hunger, reduce inequalities, ensure education and good health for all, decent jobs and sustainable economic growth. The goals focus on promoting peace and security and on strengthening international cooperation. The Global Goals acknowledge the close relationship between social, economic and environmental development, peace, security and international cooperation, and that a coordinated effort is a prerequisite for achieving durable solutions.
The Global Goals build on the success of the eight so-called '2015 Goals' ('Millennium Development Goals') that were adopted in 2000 by the 189 UN member states to improve the lives of the world's poorest people and secure sustainable development globally by eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education promoting gender equality and empower women, reducing child mortality, combatting HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases and ensuring environmental sustainability. The 2015 Goals initiated the most successful anti-poverty action in history and served as a strong foundation for the new and more comprehensive agenda for sustainable development, i.e. the Global Goals.
Despite what many believe, great progress has been achieved over the past 20 years. Since 1990, global poverty has been reduced by almost 75%. Nine out of ten children in developing countries now go to school. Twice as many children survive their 5-year birthday, and the number of women dying related to pregnancy or birth has been reduced by 45%. Two billion people now have access to safe drinking water, and millions of human lives have been saved thanks to improved prevention and treatment of infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
The Global Goals are to fulfil the achievements of the 2015 Goals and to reach even further. The ambition is, once and for all, to eradicate global poverty and hunger, and the Global Goals will focus even more on sustainability than the 2015 Goals. Everyone has the right to a worthy life, and today we have the necessary knowledge, technology and resources to make it happen.
The Global Goals and Relevance to SSI's Activities
The Global Goals are relevant to SSI's work on several levels.
SSI's mission is to strengthen health through disease control and research. SSI is an integrated part of the Danish and international health system and translates research into future preparedness.
SSI's main task is relevant to specifically Goal 3: 'Good Health and Well-being'. SSI ensures efficient infectious disease preparedness, international health cooperation and screening for and early treatment of congenital disorders. Furthermore, SSI's researchers are driven by continuous curiosity to achieve new knowledge and solutions; a prerequisite to improving health.
SSI's activities contribute to the achievement of several other Global Goals. By taking over the Danish national veterinary preparedness in 2020, together with the University of Copenhagen, SSI helps achieve Goal 12: 'Responsible Consumption and Production', Goal 15: 'Life on Land', Goal 14: 'Life below Water', Goal 13: 'Climate Action', and finally Goal 2: 'Zero Hunger', by improving global food security. SSI's contribution is underlined by the 'One Health' approach shared by SSI and the University of Copenhagen, with the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment. This holistic approach is well in line with the Global Goals.
Particularly two of SSI's activities contribute significantly to the achievement of the Global Goals, i.e. vaccine research and the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Vaccine Research and the Global Goals
Vaccines are among the most efficient means to prevent diseases. Though SSI's vaccine production was sold in 2016, SSI has managed to continue its world-class, high-quality vaccine research.
Several of these activities are focused on 'poverty-related diseases' such as malaria, blindness caused by chlamydia, and tuberculosis (TB). Approximately one quarter of the world's population is infected with TB. Increased focus is therefore expected on combatting latent TB in the efforts to eradicate the disease.
SSI's contribution is not limited to vaccines. SSI recently developed a new test for diagnosing TB (C-Tb) that will help identify the large part of the world's population who, without knowing, are infected with TB. In 2019, SSI entered into collaboration with Serum Institute of India Pvt. Ltd. who will be producing and distributing the test. This way, SSI supports WHO's goal to eradicate TB as well as the UN Global Goals.
Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and the Global Goals
Modern health care depends entirely on the efficiency of antibiotics. Both MD's and patients take for granted that antibiotics work. However, in recent years, this efficiency has been severely challenged by increasing antibiotic resistance and other antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
AMR therefore constitutes a threat; not only to our health, but also to our economic progress and security. Ten out of the 17 Global Goals are directly affected by AMR. Much of the progress we have achieved resulting in access to treatment of diseases and reduction of child and maternal mortality may be lost again, unless action is taken and solutions identified.
SSI participates in the fight against AMR in several fields, e.g. through our surveillance and research programmes that survey the consumption of antibiotics and the incidence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Denmark. We also provide instructions on how to prevent or minimize the spread of resistant bacteria.
Finally, SSI is currently establishing the International Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance Solutions (ICARS) together with both national and international collaborators. ICARS is a government initiative in close collaboration with the World Bank. The purpose of ICARS is to establish a research centre and network focusing on intervention and implementation research in an effort to solve the AMR challenge, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Today, most countries have committed to take action against the threat of resistant microorganisms. However, despite this commitment and good intentions, there is still a long way to go from politics to action. Particularly in low- and middle-income countries, it is difficult to actively take steps to reduce incorrect use of antibiotics and efficiently prevent infections. Research is needed to identify efficient interventions in concrete contexts.
ICARS will, in collaboration with relevant countries, perform research yielding sustainable and economical evidence-based solutions. This work will be undertaken in a 'One Health' approach. Denmark has a lot to offer in this field.
The establishing of ICARS is currently ongoing. SSI will be hosting the ICARS secretariat working to build the organization. ICARS is expected to be launching the first demonstration projects already in 2020.