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There can be no doubt that 2015 was a year of considerable challenge and achievement for our Member States and for WHO’s work in the Region. Nevertheless, because of a clear vision of what is needed and the ability to double our collective efforts, we were able to respond to emerging needs and at the same time continue our adherence to implementing the programme of strategic priorities that we have followed since 2012. I hope that this report has succeeded in highlighting the progress and continuing challenges.

As we move forward, one of the most important influences on our work with Member States will be the Sustainable Development Goals endorsed by the United Nations in September 2015. The goals are comprehensive in scope and, if achieved, will have profound impact on health development regionally and globally. The goals have been developed with the stated aim of ensuring that ‘no one will be left behind’. While SDG 3 is the main goal associated with health, in practice all the goals are of importance to health development, while SDG 3 itself is a key element of achieving sustainable development. Universal health coverage is at the heart of SDG3 and strengthening health systems towards achieving universal coverage will remain the key pillar of all our work. 

Let us remain united in our commitment to health in the Region.