Health as a Gateway to Global Development
A Conversation with Helen Clark of UNDP


Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), spoke at HSPH on January 31, 2013, in a one-on-one conversation about global health and how universal health coverage and addressing social determinants of health can promote sustainable development. She also discussed what lessons we can take from the successes or shortfalls of eight international development targets called the Millennium Development Goals, set to expire in 2015. Administrator Clark is the first woman to lead UNDP and also is the chair of the United Nations Development Group, a committee consisting of the heads of all UN funds, programs and departments working on development issues. In addition, she is the former Prime Minister of New Zealand.

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Background Articles

Image Credit: Courtesy of UNDP

  • The Forum at Harvard School of Public Health

    How can we promote healthcare until women have a more equal place in the world? In our USA, it is still a common thing for women to be the healthcare managers of the household. Men don’t go to the doctor very often without the urging of the women in their life. In other countries, women don’t have this kind of influence.

  • The Forum at Harvard School of Public Health

    Positivity and Optimism have been shown to have tremendous benefits–not only to better physical and mental health–also to cognitive ability, relationships, decreased crime, alcohol & drug abuse and even teen pregnancy not to mention the world wide depression problem.

    How is this information being incorporated? Are programs to increase positivity and optimism included in the plans to improve global health and well-being?

  • The Forum at Harvard School of Public Health

    Ecological health is one that is not allocated as much as attention as clinical and public health yet all three are interconnected and integral to one another. Do you feel that ecological and environmental factors should be incorporated more into clinical and public health practices and if so, how?

    Melissa J. French
    Master Trainer, CPT

  • The Forum at Harvard School of Public Health

    It is great to learn that your organisation, a forerunner of human development, is engaged in the issue of universal health coverage. Evidence shows that universal health coverage, if planned and implemented with strong focus on equity, rights, and pro-poor approach, can generate enormous positive impacts on poverty reduction and human development as demonstrated by such countries as Thailand. The fact that the first UN resolution on universal health coverage was adopted last month indicates its increasing significance as the world now discusses the post-MDG period in the face of growing inequities.

    (1) How has UNDP been engaged or how does UNDP plan to address and support universal health coverage as part of sustainable and inclusive development effort? (I did not find information on UNDP’s engagement on universal health coverage in your website).

    (2) While many UN agencies, particularly WHO and ILO, are supporting efforts towards universal health coverage, what are UNDP’s unique contributions to these UN-wide efforts?

    (3) As the chair of the UN Development Group, how would you like to see universal health coverage reflected in the post-MDG development agenda and UN-wide support?

  • The Forum at Harvard School of Public Health

    How do nations balance the budget but still allow access to life saving medicine?

  • The Forum at Harvard School of Public Health

    What is the scope of health economics? kindly ask Helen Clark.
    Sick people take more days of work , this reduces productivity and efficiency. ultimately leading to loss in growth at the macro level. In addition to this health related issues take up a substantial portion of a poor households income thus forcing the poor to stay in a vicious cycle of poverty. while other times it pushes lower income families below the poverty line. Health related products specially generic medicines can be produced at cheaper rates in developing countries like Pakistan and India, thereby increasing their exports and adding to foreign exchange earnings

  • Susan Hallenberger

    What can we do in our own communities to help decrease the effects of poverty on health – with large populations of immigrants, and diffenent cultural beliefs, how best do we break through potential barriers?

  • Kiran Kamble

    I have evaluated a few Global Fund (GFATM) grants wherein UNDP has been the principal recipient of the grants for HIV and TB, specifically South Sudan and Haiti. I have seen excellent systems put in place by UNDP to improve TB and HIV health services in these countries. My question is whether UNDP has any plans to support such severely resource constrained countries on health sector reforms and health systems strengthening at a broader level (beyond specific disease areas)? I believe that given the systems in place at UNDP and the knowledge it has accumulated in systems strengthening over the years, UNDP is ideally placed to undertake this role, if not planned already.

  • Irfan A. Khan

    Question for Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
    If UNDP is a solution-oriented, knowledge-based development organization, supporting countries to reach their own development objectives and internationally agreed goals, how far has it been successful in its aims.
    Pakistan’s proportion of the poor in 1990-91 was 26.1 percent and MDG target of halving the proportion means a target of 13 percent for 2015.
    However, poverty had risen to 34.4 percent in 2000-01 but has since declined to 23.7 percent due to high growth especially in the agriculture sector during 2004-05. The poverty reduction target of MTDF is 21 percent by 2010.
    What measure do you propose for eradication of poverty in the future

  • Alain Akpadji

    Since 2003, UNDP has builded stongh partnership around the Global Fund to fight AIDS tuberculosis and malaria. UNDP is implementation the Global Fund, and contributes to the strengthening of the national leadership for better coordination of the HIV and Health response.
    This partnership focuses on three interrelated objectives:
    (i) Supporting implementation of MDG 6 related programming when UNDP serves as interim Principal Recipient (PR) of Global Fund grants in countries facing exceptional development challenges and/or complex emergencies.
    (ii) Developing the capacity of national entities to take over the management of Global Fund programmes as soon as circumstances permit, or to improve their performance when they are already serving as Principal Recipients; and
    (iii) Strengthening policy and programme quality of Global Fund-related work, both at country and global levels, in line with UNDP’s role as a cosponsor of UNAIDS and UNDP’s core mandates in governance and capacity development
    UNDP serves as interim Principal Recipient (PR) in 29 countries/territories facing special circumstances, including serious capacity constraints, post-crisis situations, political upheaval, or donor sanctions, managing a total of 64 active grants with a value of US$1.4 billion (2-5 year periods). UNDP therefore currently manages approximately 12% of Global Fund grant volume for all active signed grants.
    UNDP’s well-established legal and administrative agreements with host Governments,
    UNDP is able to harness the technical expertise and resources of other specialized UN agencies :

    My question is how can we take stock from this important partnership to the post 2015 Agenda. The GFTAM mechanism allowed achieving significant MDGs . But, challenges related to the effective implementation of the GFTAM remains on the field: adaptation of the GFTAM mechanisms to each country context especially the post conflict countries, flexibility in the disbursement articulated to the lack of capacity, capacity building and the use of national system ( finance procurement, monitoring evaluation) and capacity building of civil society and community organization.
    How the lesson learned from the experience of UNDP in the implementation of the Global Fund could be considered in the Post MDG Agenda?

  • Clyde Israel

    Thank you for the post, interesting and enjoyable.
    I would like to understand some comments better, please elaborate on the following:
    1. MDG goals and alignments to development and sustainability was mentioned as essential to achieving success: comments were made about providing villages in Burkina Faso with an engine/machine of sorts, please clarify, is it a combustion engine? My thoughts go to sustainable options; considering the lack of infrastructure – roads, spare parts, repair technicians, fuel requirements etc, is this the best option? Or is the engine self sustaining? And if it is indeed a combustion engine, what message is that sending to the world?
    2.. At 17,50 minute mark a gent posed a question and perhaps he was not direct enough; it was about inequality and social stratification, my thoughts went J Stiglitz and his book ‘The Price of Inequality’, the issues raised by him and many others are concerned with current economic models and how they create inequality and resulting degradation etc, all linked to the MDG’s. Could Helen please answer in this context.

  • Anonymous

    i was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS for over 5 years which made loose my job and my relationship with my fiance after he discovered that i was having HIV, he departed from me i tried all my best to make him stays with me, but neglected me until a friend of mine on Facebook from Singapore told me Great healer, who will restore my life back with his powerful healing spell, he sent me the email address to contact ( and i quickly contacted him, and he said my condition can solved, that he will treat the disease immediately only if i can accept trust him and accept his terms and condition, i Agreed because i was so much in need of help by all means, so i did all he want from me and surprisingly on Sunday last week He sent me a text, that i should hurry up to the hospital for a checkup, which i truly did, i confirm from my doctor that i am now ( HIV NEGATIVE) my eyes filled with tears and joy, crying heavily because truly the disease deprived me of many things from my life, This is a Miracle, Please do not en-devour to email dr.marnish or call him at +15036626930 for healing

  • Anonymous

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  • stacey Bruno

    I never believed in love spells or magic until I met this spell caster once when i went to see my friend in Indian this year on a business summit. I meant a man who’s name is Dr ATILA he is really powerful and could help cast spells to bring back one’s gone, lost, misbehaving lover and magic money spell or spell for a good job or luck spell .I’m now happy & a living testimony cos the man i had wanted to marry left me 5 weeks before our wedding and my life was upside down cos our relationship has been on for 3years. I really loved him, but his mother was against us and he had no good paying job. So when i met this spell caster, i told him what happened and explained the situation of things to him. At first i was undecided,skeptical and doubtful, but i just gave it a try. And in 7 days when i returned to Canada, my boyfriend (now husband) called me by himself and came to me apologizing that everything had been settled with his mom and family and he got a new job interview so we should get married. I didn’t believe it cos the spell caster only asked for my name and my boyfriends name and all i wanted him to do. Well we are happily married now and we are expecting our little kid, and my husband also got the new job and our lives became much better. His email is