By Tokunbo Kujore, Impact Analyst and Founder, Afro Girls
Starting and ending this post with the numbers “2020.,” should understandably suffice as a complete article about SDG 3 and our now blind race towards achieving good health and well-being for all in 10 years. What a year for global health, right?
While a host of health challenges remain prevalent in the lives of many around the world, no one could have effectively prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic. As of the start of this article on September 3rd, an estimated 26.1 Million people around the world have been infected by the virus and 864,000 people have died. The crisis has also shed light on the real essential workers and a number of deep-rooted racial, gender and economic inequalities; unfortunately global healthcare is a casualty of all three. Through the targets of Global Goal 3, as a global community, we are responsible for ensuring healthy lives and the promotion of well-being for all ages by 2030. I believe that we can promote healthy living over the next 10 years, but I think we will need to rethink health and healthcare to ensure and sustain healthy lives.
Healthcare For All
Good health directly affects every part of life and all 17 Global Goals. However, there’s a price to pay to live healthy. Health is wealth, but good health is expensive - literally and figuratively. Let’s take a closer, general look at a few of the targets of Goal 3, and and our responsibility towards achieving these targets:
Target 3.4: By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.
A number of ailments are unlisted, making it harder to be treated accordingly. This in turn affects the data collected to promote effective well-being. By the time those affected by the listed non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and some mental conditions, know that they are affected, it’s too late.
Also, access to proper care across the board is just not equal. We see this today, now more than ever before, especially in mental health in marginalized communities around the world whose cultures consider such ailments, though rampant, taboo or insignificant.
Target 3.7: By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes and Target 3.8: Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.
We have a long way to go to achieve Targets 3.7 and 3.8. I often wonder if the world is truly ready for a world where its citizens have access to universal health coverage and knowledge on sexual and reproductive health-care services. If we are, can it happen in 10 years? If we can do this in 10 years, will women and girls finally be a part of the conversation? Asking for a friend.
In certain parts of the world, where women and girls do not have access to resources about reproductive health, females have risked their lives because of the lack of adequate information and safe resources. Getting quality healthcare is also very expensive. In developed countries, where resources are readily available, minority women and girls are not included and overlooked in conversations and decisions about their own bodies, which results in disproportionately higher mortality rates.
Make it make sense fellow citizens, make it make sense.
The global pandemic has set many targets and goals back years. I believe family planning and the integration of reproductive health in national strategies and programmes will forever be changed, hopefully for the better.
Target 3.D: Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks.
We can only do so much as global citizens towards achieving the global goals. In order to strengthen the capacity of our countries, our leaders have to lead.
Since the start of writing this article a couple of hours ago, the total cases of the coronavirus virus around the world has increased to 26.2 Million - total deaths, 867,000. This number could have been lower if the people we entrusted to make critical decisions on our behalf, took our lives seriously. Citizens are not subjects to make money from. We are human beings with real lives of value. It's imperative that our governments and leaders in power understand that the one size fits all approach to healthcare does not fit all and personal gain benefits no one. Rethinking established policies is also key moving forward.
A New Normal
My challenge to all of us is to look beyond what we know about health and demand that our leaders do their job and protect their citizens. We are facing the challenges we are facing today in many parts of the world, including developed countries, because of the lack of effective leadership and localization of global targets. Despite enduring a whirlwind of a year, we've made major strides this year. If we are to work towards achieving Goal 3 by 2030, we have to hold our leaders accountable and make healthcare inclusive.
Stay safe, stay healthy.
Check out more posts in the SDGs in 20/20 series here.