Promoting global healthcare globally has always been essential to ensure sustainable development of other areas; but now, with the COVID-19 pandemic spreading around the world, is more than ever important to have a global health response and act together to face this emergency.
“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were set in 2015 by the international community as part of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through which countries of the world collectively pledged to eradicate poverty, find sustainable and inclusive development solutions, ensure everyone’s human rights, and generally make sure that no one is left behind by 2030.”
As so, the 2030 SDGs are a call for action by all countries in the world to promote prosperity while protecting the planet, because ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and address a range of social needs including education, health and social protection.
SDG 3: Good health and well-being
According to the United Nations, healthy people are the foundation for healthy economies; for this matter, the third goal of the Agenda for Sustainable Development pledges to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages as the only way to build prosperous societies. There is still a long way to go to achieve this goal as for instance, in 2017, only around one third to half of the global population was covered by essential health services and more than 6 million children still die before their 5th birthday each year. If current trends continue, only 39 per cent to 63 per cent of the global population will be covered by essential health services by 2030. Furthermore, an additional 18 million health workers are needed to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.
Ensuring healthy lives for all requires a strong commitment, but the benefits outweigh the cost. The main targets of the UN to improve global health regard child health, maternal health, fighting HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse (including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol) and finally substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination. Progress in many health areas, such as in reducing maternal and child mortality, in increasing coverage of immunization, and in reducing some infectious diseases, continues, but the rate of improvement has slowed down, especially during COVID-19 which is overwhelming the health systems globally and threatens health outcomes already achieved. Right now, the World Health Organization (WHO) is mainly focused on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and helping the countries to prepare and adequate response to deal with this health emergency. The Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, produced by WHO and partners, provides further guidance for the public health response to COVID-19 at national and subnational levels. WHO, together with partners, also provides guidance and advice for people to look after their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic — especially health workers, managers of health facilities, people who are looking after children, older adults, people in isolation and members of the public more generally.
How is the European Union acting regarding the SDG 3?
Since the beginning the EU made a positive and constructive contribution to the development of the 2030 Agenda and is committed to implement the SDGs in all its policies and encourage EU countries in doing the same. Regarding specifically the 3rd SDG, the EU is a major contributor to international health-related initiatives: via the Development Cooperation Instrument and the European Development Fund, the EU is currently providing 17 countries with substantive support. European action has already made possible:
- That almost 64 million children were fully immunised in 2018
- That 13,8 million women of reproductive age were supported to use modern contraceptive methods.
- The distribution of 600 million insecticide-treated bed nets
Since 2002, the EU has committed more than €2.6 billion to the Global Fund, with a record €500 million contribution pledged for 2020-2022. This will help save 16 million more lives from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
The EU is also supporting efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19 and helping countries to strengthen their healthcare, water and sanitation systems, developing approaches tailored to meet the different needs of the different areas of the world. It is, as well, supporting the development of a fast and equitable access to safe, quality, effective and affordable tests, treatments and vaccines against coronavirus. Almost 36 billion euros were already mobilised to sanitary, economic and business measures and supporting healthcare systems and the response to the pandemic in partner countries.
What can I do to help?
You can start by promoting and protecting your own health and the health of those around you, by making well-informed choices, practicing safe sex and vaccinating yourself and your children, if you have any. You can also raise awareness in your community about the importance of good health, healthy lifestyles as well as people’s right to quality health care services, specifically for the most vulnerable.
Specially now with the COVID-19 situation everyone has an important role to promote global health and be an agent for public health. Use your masks correctly, wash your hands, avoid unnecessary gatherings and keep the social security distance from other people if you need to be with someone and, finally but very importantly: try to keep healthy habits and routines to protect your mental health.
Written by Carolina Ramon da Fonseca