Envisioning the future of good health and wellbeing with Goal 3
Which countries are achieving it?
“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Access to healthcare is a fundamental human right and a key indicator of sustainable development. Recognizing the link between this fundamental need and future progress, the United Nations established Goal 3 in 2015 to end injustices that underpin poor health and development concerns.
According to the U.N., during the last decade, significant improvement has been made in several areas, including children’s health, addressing AIDS, malaria, and other diseases, while maternal mortality has fallen by almost 50 percent since 1990. However, there is still a great deal to be done. Effective progress means achieving universal health coverage, making essential medicines affordable and available to all and ending all preventable deaths of children.
Also, steps should be taken to reduce the gap between developed and poor countries. Substantial differences between the world’s nations persist: people in many sub-Saharan African areas have a life expectancy of less than 50 years, compared to 80 years in countries like Japan.
In this regard, the 2019 edition of the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index provides a comprehensive overview of countries’ improvements on the health and wellbeing fronts. Ranking 169 nations on the basis of life expectancy and other variables that allude to overall health like environmental factors and risks related to tobacco use and obesity, the report showed that Spain is currently the world’s healthiest country. Four other European nations are among the top 10: Iceland, Switzerland (5th), Sweden (6th), and Norway (9th). Japan, the healthiest Asian nation, moved three places from 2017 into the 4th position, replacing Singapore that dropped to 8th. Australia and Israel are in 7th and 10th place, respectively.
As for North America, Canada places 16th, while the U.S. and Mexico dropped slightly to 35th and 53rd. Life expectancy in the U.S. has been trending lower due to deaths from drug overdoses and suicides. Cuba has been ranked five spots above the U.S., making it the only nation not classified as "high income" to be ranked among the first 50.
South Korea improved seven spots going up to 17th and China rose to 52nd. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, life expectancy in China is on track to surpass the U.S. by 2040.
Sub-Saharan economies account for 27 of the 30 unhealthiest nations in the ranking, followed by Haiti, Afghanistan, and Yemen. Mauritius is the healthiest in Sub-Sahara, placing 74th globally due to its low rate of death by communicable diseases.
In order to ensure health and wellbeing for all by 2030, the U.N. published a list of targets that provide world countries with guidelines to create action:
Reduce the global maternal mortality to less than 70 per 100,000 live births;
End preventable deaths of children under five years of age and reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births;
End the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and tropical diseases; combat hepatitis, water-borne, and other communicable diseases; promote mental health;
Strengthen the prevention of substance abuse, tobacco, and alcohol consumption;
Halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents;
Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services;
Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential healthcare services, and effective medicines and vaccines;
Reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from pollution; and
Increase health financing, recruitment, and training of the health workforce in developing countries, as well as strengthen the capacity for early warning and management of health risks.
As highlighted by youth.gov, a US government website that helps to create and strengthen effective youth programs, the role of youth in achieving Goal 3 is expanding at the international, national, and local levels. The participation of millennials in promoting good health and wellbeing is fundamental for the implementation of the U.N. 2030 Agenda.
So, if you haven't done so already, make sure to give your personal contribution and take action to promote this important objective.
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