Sustainable Development Goal 3 – Advances, insufficient progress and setbacks prevail

27 Apr 2023
ODS 3 gente en distintas fases de la vida

As deadline to 2030 reaches halfway point, countries must accelerate towards meeting health-related targets

Santiago, Chile, 26 April 2023 (PAHO)- As the deadline for achieving the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development reaches its halfway mark, progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal relating to health (SDG3) has been insufficient in countries of the Americas, despite advances.

"The Americas have made progress towards achieving SDG 3 with the reduction of child mortality, but we still need to advance in maternal mortality, mental health, HIV, tuberculosis, and neglected diseases to achieve universal health," said PAHO Director Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, while participating in the Sixth Meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin American and Caribbean on Sustainable Development in Santiago, Chile, this week.

Participación del doctor Jarbas Barbosa, encuentro CEPAL

The meeting brings together government delegates and representatives of international organizations and the United Nations System, the private sector, academia, and civil society at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, from April 25 to 28. Participants engage in discussions on ways to accelerate and correct the course towards the achievement of the SDGs of the 2030 Agenda, following the pandemic of COVID-19.

The SDGs are 17 universal and interconnected goals, with achievable targets and specific indicators for the period 2015 to 2030. Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, has 13 targets related to maternal and neonatal mortality, births attended by skilled health personnel, communicable diseases such as HIV, and non-communicable diseases such as cancer, among others.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, progress towards meeting SDG 3 targets, while positive in some areas, was insufficient and uneven both among and within the countries of the Americas.

Most of the SDG 3 indicators in the Americas show a modest improvement in their regional average, but there are no significant changes in the reduction of inequality. For example, while mortality from prioritized chronic diseases went from 14.8% in 2015 to 14.2% in 2019 (SDG 3.4.1), the absolute gap between more developed and less developed countries remained at 6 percentage points. In contrast, mortality from road traffic injuries (SDG 3.6.1) went from 15.8 per 100,000 inhabitants to 15.3 in the same period. Despite the decrease, the absolute gap increased from 5.3 to 7.8.

On the other hand, some SDG 3 indicators are not only increasing at the regional level, but the inequality between more and less developed countries is also increasing, marking a setback. An example is the suicide mortality rate of 8.4 per 100,000 population in 2015 to 8.9 in 2019, with the gap between more developed countries and less developed countries increasing from 4.9 to 7.3 in the same period. 

The post-pandemic context imposes new challenges when it comes to expectations around health and well-being. This will require increased efforts to achieve the SDG3 targets and advance towards equity.

PAHO provides technical cooperation to the countries of the region to advance towards the achievement of the health-related Sustainable Development Goal 3 and has formulated more than 3,000 evidence-informed recommendations.