The third UN Global Goal—good health and well-being—aims to ensure healthy lives for all people of all ages. Addressing poverty, hunger, and social inequality are all prerequisites to improving the health of the global population. Since 2000, there have been significant advances in global health. Mortality rates for children under five years of age and for children within the first 28 days of life (i.e., neonatal) have fallen by 49 percent and 41 percent, respectively. The rate of maternal mortality has also dropped since the year 2000. Yet, progress is not uniform. In the US, maternal deaths have risen from 16.9 per 100,000 births in 2000 to 26.4 in 2015. Currently, the US ranks highest among developed countries in maternal deaths, and the trend is rising. Sub-Saharan Africa also struggles with maternal and child mortality rates higher than the global average.
Despite gains in recent decades, progress is beginning to lag in the fight against communicable diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. Other areas—such as non-communicable diseases, mental health, and environmental risks—also call us to strengthen the capacity of health systems. The challenges of substance abuse, chronic illness related to pollution, deaths from accidents, and the rise of antibiotic resistant microbes point to particular areas where more work is needed.
The stories below highlight some of the many solutions to improving health and well-being.
We learn about how Baltimore has enlisted doulas to help reduce infant mortality rates. In the UK, tens of thousands of volunteers are picking up groceries, delivering medicines, and providing human contact for vulnerable populations that are self-isolating. Some approaches address multiple factors at once. Leeds has been the first city in the UK to reduce its childhood obesity using a program called HENRY (Health, Exercise, and Nutrition for the Really Young). Karen Weintraub’s story explains how doctors in Massachusetts look to diet as a way to treat physical and mental health illnesses. Explore further to see how Project Echo is combating HIV through technology and education, how a city in India has reduced malaria cases by 24% through a combined approach, and more!
Click here for more stories in the Solutions Story Tracker on good health and well-being.
- Identify and classify areas of good health and well-being that pertain to the targets of Goal 3. Explain how we define “good health and well-being” and what metrics are used to measure the targets.
- Compare the ways in which health risks differ between developing, developed, and affluent countries. Identify, in particular, regions that do not follow the global trends as described by the UN. Examine these differences and discuss factors that may be contributing to these global discrepancies. For instance, explain what factors might contribute to high the rate of maternal mortality in the United States, as compared to other affluent countries?
- Evaluate the impact of mutual aid societies on the health and well-being of not just individuals, but communities as well. The word “mutual” in the concept of “mutual aid” suggests a reciprocity between the parties involved. How do you interpret this?
- What is the poverty cycle? Identify some of the socioeconomic determinants of health and explain how poverty and poor health relate to issues such as geography, housing, income, nutrition, and access to reproductive health.
- Examine how efforts to increase immunization relate to the decline in childhood mortality and the prevalence of infectious disease worldwide. How do trends of immunization rates and disease incidence and prevalence compare? Where do challenges remain?
- What role does social and cultural stigma play as an obstacle to achieving good health and well-being? Consider, in particular, what issues suffer from social stigma.
- How does Goal 3 relate to your particular area of study? Reflect on the ways that collaborations between fields can encourage progress toward the goal of good health and well-being.
- Create your own collection around an Issue Area or Success Factor related to Goal 3. Include 4-6 stories from the Story Tracker not included in the original collection.
- Targets for Goal 3 fall into the following categories: a) reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health; b) infectious diseases; c) non-communicable diseases, mental health, and environmental risks; d) health systems and funding. Click here for more information about target goals in each of these categories, and the metrics used to measure them. Most commonly, mortality, incidence, and prevalence of a disease are measured in cases per 1,000 of a population.
- In Sub-Saharan Africa, the percentage of working poor stands particularly high, at 38% in 2018; Sub-Saharan Africa also lags behind the global trend of maternal health, with 59% of births attended to by skilled birth attendants, compared to a global average of 81%; Sub-Saharan Africa also carries the highest burden of disease, especially of malaria, where the numbers have begun to rise again since 2017.The United States, the previous generation has seen a 50% increase in maternal deaths – from roughly 17 per 100,000 in 1990 to 26 per 100,000 in 2015. Encourage students to conduct research into social, political, and economic factors behind these trends.
- Research has repeatedly shown that being part of any kind of community or support network lengthens an individual’s life, reduces their risk of health complications, and strengthens their civic engagement. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that we also have a social epidemic of loneliness and isolation. Mutual aid societies can address this problem quite effectively. The participation of all in the society—from teens to the elderly—strengthens the social fabric, health, and resilience of a community. Youth feel empowered that they can make a difference in other’s lives, and the elderly, isolated, and fragile receive the help and companionship they need. The mutuality of this relationship is based in the notion of the rewards of service and community engagement, but the larger benefits go beyond that. These societies have galvanized the entrepreneurial spirit of a younger generation; they have demonstrated how social media platforms have demonstrated (again) their ability to organize and deploy volunteers and support services with remarkable speed; they have brought communities together in a way not seen in generations; and they have made us reflect on our own relationship to our community—who lives in it, what our responsibility to it is, and even, perhaps, what we might expect from it.
- The poverty cycle (sometimes called the poverty trap) refers to a situation where more than one factor, or event, unleashes a feedback loop, placing a person or family in a long-term, often inter-generational, position of relative or absolute poverty. In families with insufficient resources, a sudden loss of a job, or loss of housing may cause a ripple effect leading to long-term unemployment, lower levels of education for children, and mental health challenges. These factors also leave an imprint on the next generation.
- According to the most recent UN report: “immunization saves millions of lives and is widely recognized as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions. Coverage of the required three doses of the vaccine that prevents diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis increased from 72 per cent in 2000 to 85 per cent in 2015 and has remained unchanged between 2015 and 2017.” Furthermore, “Hepatitis B can be prevented through vaccinations; global coverage of vaccinations for that disease among children 1 year of age increased from 29 per cent in 2000 to 84 per cent in 2015.”
- Reducing stigma around issues of female hygiene, sanitation, and female genital mutilation is a key aspect of improving global health and well-being. Much of the global population lack’s access to family planning and basic female hygiene products. According to the UN, “expanding access to modern contraceptive methods is essential to ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services. Globally, the proportion of women of reproductive age (15 to 49 years old) who have their need for family planning satisfied with modern contraceptive methods has continued to increase slowly, from 74 per cent in 2000 to 76 per cent in 2019." Mental health is another area where stigma reduction can help increase access to networks of support and treatment. HIV/AIDs and other communicable diseases also suffer from social stigma that prevents vulnerable populations from accessing health care. Stigma can range from cultural and social behaviors, such as shame, to outright violence, even directed at health care workers.
- Answers will vary by student. For those interested in taking their studies out of the classroom, consider how a community garden can benefit the health and well-being of a community without requiring participants to have a college degree! Students may also wish to find ways their studies can relate to social, medical, financial, political, or other aspects of achieving Goal 3.
- Answers will vary. See: how to create a collection. See also: More information on Success Factors.