It is time to examine in detail the Sustainable Development Goal #3 (SDG3) that aims at ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages which is essential to sustainable development. Due to COVID 19, the world is facing a global health crisis unlike any other. The pandemic is spreading human suffering, destabilizing the global economy and defeating the lives of billions of people worldwide.
According to the United Nations, over 40 per cent of all countries have fewer than 10 medical doctors per 10,000 people; over 55 per cent of countries have fewer than 40 nursing and midwifery personnel per 10,000 people. An additional 18 million health workers are needed, primarily in low and lower-middle income countries, to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.
SDG 3 directly interconnects with SDG 2 and SDG 6 since hunger, infected water and unhygienic living conditions can lead to infectious diseases and could affect the health of
people. It is also very related to SDG 8 because it is difficult for unhealthy individuals to keep and create employment opportunities.
This SDG has 13 specific targets (sub-goals) that are related to reducing the global maternal and neonatal mortality ratio, eradicating infectious diseases, accessing essential health-services and medicines, and supporting research, among others. It has been agreed 28 specific indicators to measure these targets.
Healthy people are the foundation for healthy economies
Life expectancy is rising around the globe. We have had great progress thanks to vaccine programs and increased sanitation, but despite this development, the reduction in diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis has stalled. Moreover, the pandemic has shown that in both rich and poor countries, a health emergency can push people into bankruptcy or poverty. Given this difficult context we are living in, what shall we do to stay healthy?
- Promote and protect your own health and the health of those around you, by making well-informed decisions, practicing safe sex and vaccinating your children (and yourself when needed). Immunization is one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions. While vaccination coverage among infants increased from 72 per cent in 2000 to 86 per cent in 2018, an estimated 19.4 million children did not receive the essential vaccines during the first year of life.
- Raise awareness about the importance of good physical and mental health, healthy eating habits and lifestyles. Daily activities such as practicing exercise, going for a walk, being in contact with nature, meditating, sleeping enough hours and taking time for ourselves and the people we love should be in our to-do list with the highest priority. If we are not healthy, nothing else matters.
- Demand primary health care by holding your government, local leaders and other decision makers accountable to their commitments to improve people’s access to health care services. We should demand quality and accessible primary health care for all since it is the basis to help prevent diseases and critical conditions, especially for the most vulnerable such as women and children.
Those who can afford to travel for pleasure or as volunteers surely experience an increased level of happiness during their trips. Tourism can also provide what I call a “reality check” when we travel to developing countries and we realize how privileged we are as soon as we see first-hand the challenges and living conditions locals live in. Therefore, we should give these local communities a voice and vote, they should also have rights to quality health care services.
How can businesses improve health & quality of life worldwide?
In order to speed up progress and address new health challenges, all stakeholders, including the private sector need to partner to develop healthcare solutions that work for people, families, communities and nations. Any given business has a responsibility to respect human rights, including the right to health. SMEs and large companies can both benefit from and contribute to achieving healthy societies. Here are some ideas of things the private sector could do to support health needs around the world:
- Partner with health care NGOs and public clinics to raise awareness and increase access to targeted health services.
- Facilitate and invest in affordable medicine and health care for low-income populations.
- Ensure that workers have safe working conditions and access to health services. A safe working environment increases productivity, employee retention rates, employee satisfaction and a positive brand image.
- Align human resources policies with principles of human rights, including policies for HIV/AIDS
- Use innovation to create healthier lives. An example could be investing in developing micronutrients which are the essential building blocks of healthy bones, brains and bodies.
There are also great examples of innovative health-tech startups that are disrupting the healthcare industry by contributing directly to SDG3 and, therefore, improving health and quality of life around the globe. See below some of them:
- Meru health: provides mental healthcare programs to treat depression, anxiety and burnout for employees by facilitating quick access to care and daily support from a licensed therapist.
- Legit. Health: aims to improve effective communication between doctor and patient, helping them to speak the same language. Doctors can increase their rate to correct diagnosis and facilitate the collection of objective, accurate and reliable clinical data using Artificial Intelligence (AI).
- Totohealth: utilizes mobile technology to improve maternal and child health indicators for marginalized communities in Kenya. It enables organizations and counties to easily send content to registered parents that covers various subjects like vaccination reminders, clinic appointments, nutrition and family planning advice.
To sum up, concerted efforts are required if we want to achieve universal health coverage by 2030. What we have shared in this blog post are just some practical examples on what can be done. There are many other ways to do it, if you would like to go deeper into this subject or have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us, we are here to help!
Futural Tourism Founder & CEO.
Sustainable Tourism Specialist with over 10 years of varied professional experience in the fields of sustainable tourism management and research, access to finance for small and medium enterprises, credit infrastructure and international commerce.