Welcome to 2020: a new decade, a new year, and the perfect starting point for Goal 3. It’s time for New Year’s Resolutions.
Across the globe, approximately 55% of admitted new years resolutions will be health related: Lose weight. Eat more green things. Exercise more – We all want to be healthier because quite simply, good health often translates to a better (and longer) future.
Here at AM&A we are back in ‘the office’, goals and new motivation in tow. Anita is working to establish a well-being routine when ongoing travels across geo- and time-zones allow for no food & exercise routine. Swimming factors strongly. Grace is aiming to run 450 miles in 2020, an enthusiastic goal to beat last year’s incredible 400. As a business, we want to look at how we can better contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. As we all work remotely, energy and consumption are already at a minimum so we’ll look at the way we approach projects and advise clients, as well as dedicating time specifically towards lifting up others in ways that contribute to the SDGs.
After a heavy 2019, my 2020 goal is simply to be kinder to myself – mentally and physically.
Thinking of this time of year, a time when wellness commitments are pledged more firmly than any other time of the year, all are in some way related to SDG #3: Good Health and Well-being. Yet at a universal level it is not something all can fulfill. If I need a health professional, I have access to one of the world’s best healthcare systems for any tests, medicine, or mental care I need. (All at no cost or highly subsidised I should add. ) If I need to exercise, I have access and the means to attend a local gym. If I need more healthy food, I can just go and fill up my online cart and have it delivered by tomorrow. Even in health, something the healthy always take for granted, I can see that I am incredibly lucky for the life circumstances I was born into. My good fortune is not, however, the fortune of all.
Good health and well-being is a universal human need – and right. Unfortunately, we are failing to sufficiently provide it to people all over the globe – some in our own backyards. Encompassing everything from disease prevention to reproductive health to road safety, Goal 3 covers a wide range of issues. While the broadness of Good Health and Well-Being can seem overwhelming, it also provides us as individuals a plethora of opportunities to contribute to a healthier and more positive world. And to recognise our ability to have what we have to do so.
Let’s get started!
Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being: What is it?
The main purpose of Goal 3 is to ensure proper good health for ALL people worldwide by 2030. This includes reducing maternal mortality, ending the preventable deaths of children under 5, ending outbreaks of common diseases such as Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and Malaria, reducing deaths and injuries from road accidents, and increasing access to sexual and mental health care.
Half of the world currently has no access to essential health services. 1 out of 2. I don’t know about you, but that one got me. 800 million people spend over 10% of their incomes on health care, and 100 million of those have been pushed into extreme poverty due to health care expenses. (World Health Organisation) We need good health to survive, ensuring that health shouldn’t be a detriment to anyone’s life.
“Without health care, how can children reach their full potential? And without a healthy, productive population, how can societies realize their aspirations? Universal health coverage can help level the playing field for children today, in turn helping them break intergenerational cycles of poverty and poor health tomorrow.”
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake
Just as we discovered in Goal 1: No Poverty and Goal 2: No Hunger, global inequalities are one of the biggest issues when it comes to the progress of not only Goal 3 but the Sustainable Development Goals as a whole. There are massive disparities when it comes to accessing basic health care, treating easily curable and noncommunicable diseases, and maternal health between the Global North and Global South. (The North-South divide is a socio-economic division between the world’s higher income countries such as the United States, Canada, member states of the EU and Australia and the lower income countries found across Africa, South America, and developing Asia.) As an example, every year more than 6 million children die before their 5th birthday. 4 out of 5 of them live in sub-Saharan Africa or Asia.
The inequalities happen within the Global North as well, particularly within low-income areas resided in by people of colour and/or disadvantaged backgrounds. When it comes to infant mortality for example, Canadians have an average rate of 5 out of 1,000 live births. However, in Nunavut, a largely indigenous populated region of Canada, that number jumps to 16 – over three times the amount of infant deaths due to lack of accessible maternal healthcare.
Goal 3, Good Health and Well-Being, aims to target and eliminate some of the world’s most pressing healthcare issues such as:
- AIDS causes the second most deaths to teens, and is particularly a concern for women. HIV is the leading cause of death for women of reproductive age worldwide. HIV is a preventable disease. While it is not yet curable, two-thirds of new infections could be eliminated through access to HIV prevention strategies and treatments.
- Of the 36.9 million people living with AIDS, Tuberculosis is responsible for one in three AIDS-related deaths. Tuberculosis is both curable and preventable with access to the vaccine.
- Maternal Health
- Mothers in developed regions are 14 times more likely to survive childbirth than those living in developing regions.
- There are currently not enough programmes to deal with the demand for family planning and sexual education in developing regions.
- Only half of women are receiving the care they need when pregnant in developing countries.
Ensuring that people are healthy is integral for a society to function. In poor and rich countries alike, health emergencies can destroy lives financially. For every $1 billion invested in immunization coverage, one million children are saved. We still have so far to go, but the goal to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being, for all ages, for all people – is achievable. We’ve made huge strides over the last few decades, and the numbers show that we can win this fight.
Progress of Goal 3 in the World Today
The good news? People are healthier and living longer than ever, all over the world. Since 1990, child mortality has been cut in half. Life expectancy had increased dramatically. There have been huge gains with HIV and deaths from Malaria have halved. The Millenium Development Goals had a huge focus on health, and it was undoubtedly their greatest success and legacy.
Measles is a terrific example of the progress the global community has made on health. For children under five, particularly those who are impoverished, measles is deadly. In 1980, over 2.6 million people died from measles. By 2014, the number of deaths had dropped to 76,000. Measles is one of the top vaccine-preventable deaths in the world, and the rise of global vaccination programs has made a tremendous impact. Still, the disease affects over 200 million people every year – almost all live within developing countries in Africa and Asia. The vaccine requires two doses, and global coverage for both is only at 67%. Goal 3 has a target to end epidemics of preventable diseases, and while progress is incredible, 76,000 people dying every year is still way too high.
In the spirit of working in partnerships for the goals (Goal 17), progress isn’t just coming from international organisations like UNICEF and WHO. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a shining example of how philanthropy can change the world. The foundation works under the belief that every life has equal value. By working to improve people’s health, eliminate hunger, and get out of extreme poverty – The Gates Foundation has helped by providing vaccines, starting women’s health programmes and set-up nutritional programmes for children. The foundation has awarded over $50.1 Billion in grants since 2006 and has changed countless lives across 138 countries.
You, me, every individual on the planet can also do our part to contribute to Goal 3. Here are five ideas to help improve health and well-being in your community and the world.
5 Ways we can Contribute to SDG 3 as Individuals
1. Be An Example To Others
Start with the children in your life: your own, your nieces, nephews, godchildren. Show them what it means to live a healthy life, through your own actions. Eating healthy, exercising and staying active – these things can be learned by example. Next time you are hanging out with a small person for the day, choose an activity outside instead of in. Go for fresh fruit smoothies instead of fast food. Healthy doesn’t equal boring. The youngest generation is looking up to the adults in their lives, watching and taking notes. You can do your part to add positive influence, if even for a day.
Work is another place where you can be a positive example, particularly if you work in a traditional 9-5 environment. Start exercise classes after-work (or convince the boss to bring someone in), schedule weekly or monthly themed lunches around healthy themes, find ways to incorporate team activities that force you to get active. Not only are these ideas all great for team health, they’ll provide a wonderful opportunity to relax and get to know the people you work with better.
2. Go Green
Local parks and green space are so important for community health. Children having access to playgrounds and sports fields, pathways where neighbors can walk their dogs, pond-side benches for retired people in the community to enjoy fresh air. Take advantage of these places in your community.
Most community run green spaces allow locals to volunteer with gardening, cleaning up trash, or hosting events. Get involved and help guarantee the future of these important spaces. We have a small community garden next door to our home. Every flower, every hole dug, every new hopscotch addition is contributed by someone living in the community. It makes me happy, I assume it makes others happy too. Happiness is contagious.
If your community is lacking in green space and desirable parks, see point 3 below.
3. Get (Politically) Active
We can only do so much as individuals to affect things at a higher government level. The good news is that those in government, in most countries, work for you. If you don’t have a local park in your community, ask for one. Chances are that other families would love the opportunity to join with you. If the nearest Emergency Room is 30 minutes away, nobody is going to build one until enough people stand up and ask for it. Start a petition, people make them because when done effectively, they can work. Be the voice, and help create a healthier community using it.
Another way to contribute to SDG3 is to find out how your country is contributing to The Global Fund. The Global Fund is an international organisation working to end AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as epidemics. Programs are run in over 100 countries, and they invest over 4 Billion USD a year in partnership with governments, companies, and even individuals. Since only 2000, these investments have saved over 32 million lives and climbing. The money invested by governments, in particular, is extremely important moving forward. Find out how much money your country contributes on The Global Fund website, and encourage your representatives to increase that number in the next giving cycle.
4. Buy (RED)
Did you know that a pill that stops a mother from passing HIV to her baby only costs 20 cents? Still, 400 babies are born every single day with HIV, totally preventable. (RED) is a division of ONE, an organisation co-founded by Bono and other activists to end extreme poverty and preventable disease by 2030. (RED) aims to end AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria through partnering with iconic world brands and companies. 100% of the money generated by the partners for (RED) goes to on-the-ground work – such as providing those pills to pregnant mothers with HIV.
You can get involved by choosing (RED) products, particularly if it is something you were going to buy anyway. Everything from Apple iPhones to Moleskine Notebooks to Durex Condoms can be purchased in the (RED) variety – and you’ll know that part of your purchase will go towards saving lives around the world. Take a look at the (RED) products available here.
5. Make New Friends – Seriously
One of the best things you can do for your mental health, and for the mental health of others, is to make connections. Research has actually proven that having a strong social network is just as important as getting sleep, eating well, and not smoking. When you have a supportive network around you, your stress decreases which affects your immune system, coronary arteries, and even gut function and it increases all those happy hormones. (Harvard Medical School)
You don’t have to become best friends with everyone in your community to spread the magic either. Simple interactions like talking to your Uber driver, the woman at the grocery store checkout, the handyman – can all have a positive affect on yourself and those around you.
Consider volunteering as a mentor or ‘friend’ for disadvantaged youth, the elderly, or new arrivals to your area. There are many local organisations all over the world who match individuals to spend time together. You could have an enormous impact on someone’s mental health, and you may just find that they improve yours as well.
To end, something I’ve been thinking about as I watched the latest news out of Australia, completely heartbroken.
How do we keep focus on goals such as Health and Well-Being, when we feel the heaviness and prioritisation on pressing matters like Climate Change (Goal 13: Climate Action)?
I’ve mentioned it previously, but the Sustainable Development Goals were designed to work together and SDG3 is interrelated with so many other goals. No Poverty and Reducing Inequality, for example, can never be realised without Good Health and Well-Being. Some argue that unless we prioritise issues like Climate Change, there will be no people left to improve health for.
I came to the conclusion that the biggest reason we must focus on all of the Sustainable Development Goals, not just those that seem more important at any given time, is that all progress would be lost. The decreasing numbers of deaths, the rising number of available vaccines, all of that positive change – would start to go the other direction. I’d rather have a world of people alive, and healthy, to fight for. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
I’d like to invite you to take this journey with me, and AM&A, as I explore the 17 sustainable development goals. Each month we’ll focus on one goal and explore actionable ways that we as individuals can change the world.
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.