Recognizing the strong interdependence between health and development, and understanding the importance of an integrated approach to end the injustices that underpin poor health, Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG-3) draws upon an ambitious and comprehensive plan of action to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing of all people of all ages by 2030.
Several specific targets have been outlined to achieve the SDG-3 goal, including, reducing the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births, lowering deaths of newborns to a low of 12 per 1,000 live births and decreasing deaths of children below five years of age to at least a low of 25 per 1,000 live births.
It is noteworthy that since the launch of Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in 1990, maternal mortality fell by 45 percent, and worldwide there has been an over 50 percent decline in preventable child deaths globally.
Goal 3 also calls for setting a target of ending epidemics such as AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other neglected tropical diseases, as well as combating hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases by 2030.
While significant achievements have been made in this regard through 15 years of MDG; more needs to be done. For instance, in the fight against HIV, the number of newly infected each year has dropped from 3.1 million to less than 2 million, nonetheless, new infections especially among populations that are typically excluded or marginalized, continue to rise. Moreover, 22 million people living with HIV do not have access to life-saving anti-retroviral therapy, and AIDS remains the leading cause of death among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa.
Similarly, despite over 6.2 million lives having been saved from malaria in the past 15 years, chronic and catastrophic diseases continue to devastate many families pushing them into poverty and deprivation.
Knowing that non-communicable diseases (NCD) have become the greatest killer of mankind, SDG-3 aims to reduce by one-third the number of premature deaths from NCD. Improving prevention, treatment and promoting mental health and wellbeing are expected to lower the NCD rates in the coming years. Goal 3 also aims to halve the number of deaths, and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2020.
Cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes are the four leading NCDs that together account for 63 percent of all deaths worldwide. The cumulative economic losses to low- and middle-income countries from the four diseases are estimated to surpass US$7 trillion by 2025.
SDG-3 also aims to achieve universal health coverage and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all, as well as support research and development of vaccines and medicines for diseases that primarily affect developing countries.
SDG-3 intends to strengthen the capacity for reduction and management of health risks by substantially increasing health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce in developing countries, especially in least developed countries.
In 15 years of the MDG, significant strides have been made in increasing life expectancy and reducing some of the common killers associated with child and maternal mortality, as well as reducing malaria, tuberculosis, polio and the spread of HIV/AIDS, it is clear that much more needs to be done before the world can ensure a healthy life and wellbeing to all its citizens. SDG-3 aims to do exactly that by 2030.
Hurdles to overcome by 2030
Six million children die each year before their fifth birthday; 4.8 million of these children are, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.
At the end of 2013, there were an estimated 35 million people living with HIV, which also continues to be the leading cause of death for women of reproductive age worldwide
AIDS is now the leading cause of death among adolescents (aged 10–19) in Africa and the second most common cause of death among adolescents globally.
Major NCDs include tobacco, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet, insufficient physical activity, overweight/obesity, raised blood pressure, raised blood sugar and raised cholesterol. Of the 56 million global deaths in 2012, 38 million were due to NCDs. Among NCD deaths in low- and middle-income countries in 2012, over 48 percent occurred before the age of 70.
In 2010, low- and middle-income countries had higher road traffic fatality rates (18.3 and 20.1, respectively) compared to high-income countries (8.7). The African region had the highest road traffic fatality rate at 24.1, while the European region had the lowest rate, at 10.3.
It is estimated that 1.24 million people die each year on the world's roads. OF these deaths, over 50 percent are vulnerable road users: motorcyclists 23 percent, pedestrians 22 percent, cyclists 5 percent.
The Dominion Republic with 41.7 percent deaths per 100,000 population had the highest road fatality rate, followed by Thailand in second place with 38 percent and Iran in third with 34 percent. Together China and India accounted for nearly half a million road deaths in 2010.
Less than 2 percent of the global health expenditure of $100 billion are spent each year on health professional education. Over 31 percent of World Health Organization member states have only one pharmaceutical personnel per 1000 population.
The United States was way ahead of other nations in the per capita total expenditure on health at $9146, followed by Luxembourg at $6518 and Norway at $6308. But in the US, only 47 percent of that expenditure was borne by the government, whereas in Luxembourg and Norway nearly 85 percent of the health expenditure came from government spending.