Viewpoint: The World’s New Health Goal Will Need Game-Changing Health Technologies
Friday, September 4, 2015
Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for everyone at any age is a tall order, particularly if the aim is to achieve this by 2030. Yet this is the mandate of the third Sustainable Development Goal (SDG3), one of a set of 17 global goals designed to guide development priorities for the next 15 years.
Given the difficulty in defining and measuring "well-being for all," and the enormous health challenges facing low- and middle-income countries today, it's no surprise that SDG3 has been criticized for being a utopian "fairytale."
But if you dig a little deeper, and go beyond the vague overarching language of SDG3, you find a set of nine specific health targets that accompany the goal — such as targets for reducing infectious, maternal, newborn and child deaths. In low-income countries, for example, an astonishing one in 10 children dies before the age of five. SDG3 sets the target of reducing this ratio to just one in 40 or less by 2030.
The good news is that we're uniquely poised to achieve dramatic progress toward many of the ambitious targets of SDG3. Right now, we have a once-in-human-history opportunity to achieve what we are calling a "grand convergence" in global health — a reduction in infectious, maternal and child deaths down to universally low levels everywhere on the planet.
In the report of the Lancet Commission on Investing in Health (CIH) that we coauthored with 23 other economists and health experts, we showed that grand convergence could be reached in just one generation. It would require a concerted international effort to deliver health interventions and services to all those who need them. We have the financial and ever-improving scientific capability to make this happen.
Our report showed that SDG3's child-mortality target — that all countries should reduce their child death rate to at least as low as one in 40 — is feasible. But today's health tools alone won't get us there. We'll need tomorrow's tools, as well, including new medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and other innovations.