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Home » Blog » Sustainability » Unlocking Health Equity: Sustainable Development Goal 3 in Action

Unlocking Health Equity: Sustainable Development Goal 3 in Action


In 2015, the world embarked on an ambitious journey towards a better future by adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At the heart of this global blueprint lies 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure peace and prosperity for all by 2030. Among these transformative goals, Sustainable Development Goal 3 stands as a cornerstone, aiming to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”  

Health is a fundamental human right and an essential prerequisite for sustainable development. Without a healthy population, nations cannot unlock their full potential, and communities cannot thrive. Sustainable Development Goal 3 recognizes the intrinsic link between health, economic growth, and societal progress, making it a vital imperative for governments, organizations, and individuals alike. By prioritizing healthy lives, we unlock a virtuous cycle that reverberates across all facets of the 2030 Agenda. 

Tackling Critical Health Challenges through SDG 3

One of the most pressing challenges addressed by Sustainable Development Goal 3 is the financial burden of healthcare. Out-of-pocket health-related payments have pushed countless families into poverty, perpetuating a vicious cycle of ill health and destitution. According to the World Health Organization, every year, around 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty due to catastrophic health expenditures. Achieving universal health coverage and ensuring affordable access to essential healthcare services is crucial to breaking this cycle. 

Moreover, Sustainable Development Goal 3 tackles preventable maternal and child mortality, a harrowing reality that continues to plague many parts of the world. Despite significant progress, hundreds of thousands of women still lose their lives each year due to pregnancy-related causes that are largely preventable with proper medical care. Similarly, millions of children miss out on routine immunizations, leaving them vulnerable to life-threatening diseases. 

The goal also addresses the ongoing battle against communicable diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and hepatitis, which disproportionately affect developing nations. By strengthening surveillance systems, enhancing access to affordable medicines, and promoting preventive measures, SDG 3 aims to curb the devastating impact of these diseases on communities and economies. 

Sustainable Development Goal 3: A Roadmap for Global Action 

To achieve the ambitious vision of SDG 3, a comprehensive set of focus areas and implementation strategies have been outlined, serving as a roadmap for global action. Tobacco control emerges as a pivotal focus area, with efforts to strengthen the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control across all nations through public awareness campaigns, taxation policies, advertising restrictions, and other evidence-based measures. 

Access to affordable and essential medicines and vaccines is another vital component, with a focus on encouraging research and development efforts tailored to the specific health needs of developing countries, while affirming the right to leverage intellectual property flexibilities to protect public health. 

However, the successful implementation of these strategies hinges on adequate health financing and a skilled workforce. Developing nations, particularly least developed countries and small island developing states, often grapple with limited resources and healthcare personnel shortages. Substantial investments in health financing, coupled with efforts to recruit, train, and retain healthcare professionals, are crucial to building resilient health systems capable of meeting the diverse needs of populations. 

Moreover, recognizing the importance of emergency preparedness in an increasingly interconnected world, strengthening early warning systems, risk reduction strategies, and global coordination mechanisms is essential. Public health emergencies, such as pandemics and natural disasters, can rapidly overwhelm even the most robust healthcare systems. By enhancing the capacity of all nations, especially developing countries, to respond effectively to health risks and crises, this strategy aims to bolster global resilience and protect vulnerable communities. 

Notable Stides in SDG 3 so far :

146 out of 200 countries or areas have already met or are on track to meet the under-5 mortality target 

Effective HIV treatment has cut global AIDS-related deaths by 52.9% since 2010 

At least one neglected tropical disease has been eliminated in 47 countries 

Overcoming the Challenges of SDG 3

The journey towards ensuring healthy lives and well-being for all is riddled with complex challenges that demand innovative solutions and unwavering commitment. The persistent burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, exacerbated by factors such as urbanization, environmental degradation, and lifestyle changes, requires a multidisciplinary approach combining cutting-edge research, disease surveillance, and targeted interventions. 

Studying disease epidemiology through spatial analysis can unravel the intricate interplay between ecological, environmental, and socioeconomic factors that contribute to the spread of vector-borne and other infectious diseases, enabling more effective control strategies and resource allocation. 

Moreover, the rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases necessitates a proactive approach to health promotion and disease prevention, leveraging emerging technologies like wearable monitoring devices and air quality sensors to empower individuals with personalized health insights and enable early intervention. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the urgent need for robust emergency preparedness and response mechanisms, particularly in developing nations. Strengthening capacity for risk reduction and health risk management is crucial to mitigating the impact of future public health emergencies and safeguarding vulnerable populations. 

While these challenges are daunting, they also present opportunities for transformative change. Increased investment in research and development can unlock new frontiers in diagnostics, therapeutics, and preventive interventions tailored to diverse populations. Cross-sectoral collaborations between academia, industry, and governments can accelerate the translation of scientific discoveries into practical solutions that improve healthcare access and outcomes. 

The Business Case for Sustainable Development Goal 3

Businesses possess immense potential to drive progress towards SDG 3, given their far-reaching influence on global health and well-being. However, this influence can manifest both positively and negatively. On the negative side, business operations and supply chains can contribute to health hazards through local pollution, improper waste disposal, and substandard workplace safety standards, jeopardizing worker health and leading to over 2.3 million work-related deaths annually. 

Conversely, businesses can positively impact health through the development and provision of affordable medications, medical devices, and innovative healthcare solutions. Responsible businesses recognize health as a fundamental human right and strive to minimize negative impacts while maximizing their positive contributions. 

Companies can exercise leadership by embracing core responsible practices, such as monitoring and mitigating health risks throughout their operations and supply chains. Leading businesses can leverage their expertise, resources, and innovation capabilities to develop products, processes, and business models that promote global health. 

Moreover, businesses can harness their convening power to foster multi-stakeholder initiatives that encourage healthy behaviors and improve access to healthcare services. By advancing Sustainable Development Goal 3, businesses can unlock significant opportunities and tap into the rapidly growing global healthcare market, currently valued at $7 trillion and rising. 

The Ripple Effect: SDG 3 and the Interconnected Agenda

As we reflect on the transformative power of SDG 3, it becomes evident that its impact extends far beyond the realm of healthcare. This goal serves as a catalyst for progress across the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, igniting a ripple effect that reverberates through various facets of human existence. 

Improved health outcomes have the potential to alleviate poverty (SDG 1) and hunger (SDG 2), as healthy individuals are better equipped to engage in productive activities and contribute to economic growth. Furthermore, action on SDG 3 can foster decent working conditions (SDG 8) by promoting occupational safety and well-being, while also safeguarding the environment (SDGs 14 and 15) by reducing the negative impacts of health-related activities. 

Conversely, progress in areas such as ending hunger (SDG 2), ensuring access to clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), attaining gender equality (SDG 5), promoting decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), and expanding quality education (SDG 4) can collectively contribute to better health outcomes. When individuals are empowered, nourished, educated, and live in safe environments, they are more likely to lead healthy lives. 

The interconnectedness of the Sustainable Development Goals is undeniable. Actions taken toward one goal can either support or hinder the achievement of others. By recognizing and addressing these interconnections, businesses and stakeholders can build holistic and systemic solutions that amplify progress while minimizing negative impacts. 

As the global community works towards achieving SDG 3, it is essential to recognize the far-reaching consequences of our actions. Investing in healthy lives today not only secures a better future for individuals but also paves the way for a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous world for generations to come. By embracing the interconnected nature of the SDGs, we can harness the power of synergy and catalyze transformative change that transcends traditional boundaries. 

In conclusion, the pursuit of Sustainable Development Goal 3 is not merely a healthcare endeavor; it is a beacon of hope that illuminates the path towards a world where no one is left behind, and the well-being of people and the planet are inextricably linked. Let us collectively embrace this vital imperative and unleash the ripple effect of healthy lives, propelling us towards a future that embodies the true essence of sustainable development. Book a demo today!


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