Ensuring healthy living and promoting well-being sounds a lot like a promise people make to themselves on January 1. But it’s not just for people who want to get in better shape after too many holiday cookies--it affects us all.


Global Goal 3 focuses on all aspects of health in the world. This includes increasing life expectancy, reducing infant mortality rates and ending epidemics such as AIDs, hepatitis and other transmittable diseases. And that’s just the beginning. Specifics always help paint a picture:

- Reduce maternal mortality rates to less than 70 per 100,00 live births by 2030.

- Halve the number of global deaths and injuries from traffic accidents by 2020.

- Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health services and family planning by 2030.

- Provide access to universal health care services and essential medicines and vaccines.

- Significantly reduce deaths and illness related to hazardous chemical exposure, water and soil contamination, and pollution.

That’s not all, and it’s already a lot to cover. But changing the world is worth the long route.


Why does Global Goal 3 matter?

Have you ever been so sick you couldn’t get out of bed? Broken a bone? Couldn’t stop coughing? Usually you go to the doctor, or a hospital, they do some make a diagnosis and prescribe something and you walk out a healthier person. But not everyone has that, and we usually take it for granted.

Image: Flickr- Christiana Care

Across the world over 1.3 billion people do not have access to effective and affordable health care, and 93 percent of them are in low and middle income countries. These countries only make up 18 percent of global income, and represent 11 percent of global spending on health care, meaning there’s a huge imbalance.

Maternal mortality rates are 14 times higher in developing countries than in developed countries, and only half of women in those regions have access to the recommended amount of health care.

According to the UN, over 16,000 children under 5 die every day, mainly from malnourishment, dehydration and preventable diseases.

Those are some scary facts. However...

Progress has been made.


Everything is relative. For instance, that infant mortality rate has halved since 1990, from 12.7 million under-five deaths per year, to 5.9 million. This is the first time that rate has dropped below 6 million and this reduction has saved the lives of over 48 million children under the age of five. When you add that to the 15.6 million deaths averted due to measles vaccinations, that’s a lot lives saved.

In 2000, 10 out of 53 countries in the European region were afflicted by malaria. As of 2010 that number was halved, largely in part due to projects such as Roll Back Malaria.

Oh yeah, and Polio has been reduced by 99.9 percent. In 1988 Polio paralyzed over 350,000 people a year. That number was down to 416 reported cases in 2013.


All these facts paint a picture. It may not be finished yet, and there are a few corners that are still blank, but it shows a better world. One that takes a stand against global poverty, against inadequate healthcare, and tries to make everyone’s lives a little better.

Who are the leaders on the global health scene?

How do you quantify leadership in health? It’s not as easy as it sounds, because health itself is such a broad topic. But there are some countries that do better than others, in a variety of ways.

Norway spends over $9,000 per capita on health care, more than any other country in the world. Their expenditures get results too, as they have the 9th highest life expectancy at 79.5 years, and the 6th lowest infant mortality rate at 2.3 per 1,000 live births.

Uganda is also working hard. In 2000 infant mortality rates were at 147 per 1,000 births. That number has since plummeted to 66.1 per 1,000 in 2013. That’s more than a 50 percent reduction. In 2010 maternal mortality rates were at 410 per 100,000 live births. That number dropped to 360 in 2013.

Image: Wikimedia Commons- AIDs Control Program

Morocco, Tanzania and Mauritius all have 99 percent vaccination rates among children for diseases such as measles. This is huge because it indicates that more countries are making the shift to immunization, and are working towards eradication of diseases that are not as prevalent in wealthier countries.

What tactics will be used to achieve Goal 3, and what can you do?

The past three decades have seen an unheard of rise in childhood obesity. It’s estimated that there are roughly 170 million children that are overweight or obese. Recently, this epidemic has become prominent on the global conscience, and many countries are implementing social policies to fight it.


In 2007 the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute launched a school health program aimed at incorporating healthy eating habits and active lifestyles into the school curriculum.

Teachers were trained in 3-5 day sessions over the summer on how to fold self assessment, goal setting and healthy diets and physical activity into their lesson plans.

Queensland, Australia is also making strides to improve the health of its people. In 2008 the state introduced the healthy food service policy A Better Choice. This focused on increasing the healthy options of food and beverages in facilities owned or operated by the Queensland Health, such as hospitals and community health centers. Food was classified into three categories by how healthy it was, Green being the healthiest, and Red representing the foods which should be consumed more rarely.


The UN is spearheading a social media campaign to raise awareness of these global goals and other main platforms for world improvement in 2015.

A huge part of this is simply spreading the word any way you can. Show a friend a documentary. Send out invitations on facebook or twitter to share in the dissemination of information. Vaccinate your children.

Implore world leaders to pass laws that increase foreign aid to countries where health care may be lacking.

And possibly the most important thing is to remember. Remember that there are those less fortunate than you, who need your help. Stay up to date, stay informed, talk to friends, co-workers, take every step you can to get the word out.

2015 is a year of action.

It’s the year we stand up, not as members of individual countries, but as Global Citizens in the fight to make the world a better place for our children and for each other.

So go to TAKE ACTION NOW to ensure the Global Goals start off on the right foot.


Defeat Poverty

Global Goal 3: Good Health And Well-Being

By Gus Stahl