Is healthcare leadership geared to achieve sustainable development goals?

The College of Medical Administrators of Sri Lanka (CMASL) is the largest collection of healthcare leaders of the government and private health sectors, armed forces and the police service. The college celebrates its Silver Jubilee this year and its Annual Scientific Sessions is held from November 3 to 5 in Colombo.

The theme of the sessions is “Healthcare Leadership to achieve Sustainable Development Goals”. This is a very appropriate and timely theme as the world has shifted its development agenda from Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from 2015. Sustainable development meets the development of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.

SDGs set the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, meant to transform the world as agreed upon by all the member countries at the United Nations (UN) Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiroin 2012 and adopted in 2015 at the UN General Assembly. The SDGs are a universal call of action to end poverty, to protect the planet and to ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. They tackle the root causes of poverty and unite nations together to make a positive change for people and planet. They consist of 17 goals,169 targets and 244 indicators.

Sri Lanka has shown its commitment by establishing a separate ministry on Sustainable Development, appointing a Parliament Select Committee and establishing Cluster Committees on SDGs.

The SDGs not only consolidate roles that healthcare leaders could play in improving health outcomes, but also promote human rights, accountability, innovations, political commitment, and multi-stakeholder partnerships.

Leadership could be defined as the ability to influence the members of society or an organisation to get the support of (its members) in the accomplishment of a common task.

Collectively working towards achieving the SDGs is an important common task that needs to be accomplished at global and country levels. Our own healthcare leadership should be geared to achieve the SDGs by year 2030.

It is already been understood globally that there should be real healthcare leaders, not managers, as drivers of the SDGs.

Individuals those who have the right leadership orientation, skills and competencies should be tasked with the assignment of ensuring effective take-off, implementation, evaluation and reporting of the SDGs. Healthcare leaders of Sri Lanka must be able to influence the society and dominate even other sectors in achieving these imperative SDGs, as change agents as well as catalysts, and yet these influences should be brought about with compassion and with empathy. That is the challenge that healthcare leaders will face in the coming decade.

The College of Medical Administrators of Sri Lanka surely, would enable its membership in developing their leadership qualities and competencies in achieving the SDGs.

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