As advances stall, countries recommit to accelerating equitable progress towards sustainable development health targets

Girls with baby in her hands in impoverished area

Washington D.C. 27 September 2022 (PAHO) – Ministers of health from across the Americas have endorsed a series of actions to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 3 – “Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages”.

The new policy, which promotes action on the social determinants of health through strengthening health programs, community participation, intersectoral action and the involvement of local governments, was approved today during the 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

“Progress towards achieving the targets of SDG3 has been slow and uneven and this has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Andres de Francisco, Director of Family, Health Promotion and Life Course Department at PAHO.

While the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has yet to emerge, it is clear that poverty and inequalities have increased, with a consequent impact on health and SDG3.

“Inequalities and health inequities that were already high before the pandemic have worsened with ill-health concentrated disproportionately among the most socially disadvantaged,” said Gerry Eijkemans, Chief of Health Promotion and Social Determinants of Health, at PAHO.

“Although “leaving no one behind” is a principle embedded in the 2030 Agenda, it is clear that urgent action is needed to achieve the goals, and ensure an equitable fair post-pandemic recovery,” she added. “We are at a turning point in history, and the actions we take now will define our future”. 

To achieve this, the Policy for Recovering Progress Toward the Sustainable Development Goals with Equity Through Action on the Social Determinants of Health and Intersectoral Work proposes five strategic lines of action:

  • Promote intersectoral action between the health sectors and those responsible for the economy, labor, housing, and social protection among others.
  • Reorient health policies, plans, and programs to overcome barriers to health and to achieve health equity and well-being.
  • Strengthen and facilitate community participation and civil society engagement, through an intercultural approach Strengthen local governance for health and well-being.
  • Improve the monitoring and evaluation of progress towards the equitable attainment of SDG 3.