HLPF: Health in the 2030 Agenda (6)

Health as agreed in the Ministerial Declaration

SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages is addressed in para 16 of the Ministerial Declaration for both the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It also includes the interlinked SDG 6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Para 16 addresses nearly all the targets in SDG 3. The slowness in the decline of maternal mortality and the stark inequalities in newborn and child mortality are noted, (although they were added late in the negotiating process). Infectious diseases are specified, such as tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis, neglected tropical diseases and HIV and AIDS, with the addition of sexually transmitted infections, which, incidentally, are not specifically mentioned in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. There are also two separate references to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including a commitment to their prevention and treatment. The promotion of mental health, as well as the need for the prevention and treatment of substance abuse and a reduction in the number of death and injuries from road traffic accidents are also included.

At the same time, while universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services is specified, there is no reference to access to information and education, as included in target 3.7, nor any reference to reproductive rights as in target 5.6. These are major gaps. There are  also others. For example, while universal access to quality health care and medicines is specifically referred to, it is not in the context of target 3.8 on universal health coverage and financial risk protection. This is despite the strong statements on UHC made during the discussions on health (see below). The linkages between health and environmental concerns, with the exception of air pollution in the context of NCDs, are also comparatively weak.  This can, of course, be remedied in future HLPF sessions when relevant SDGs are discussed. On the other hand, there are strong references to anti-microbial resistance and the social, economic and environmental determinants of health for which there are no SDGs.

To sum up, it would be true to say that the Ministerial Declaration emphasizes the need to address many aspects of SDG 3 going forward, while ignoring some of the most controversial issues such as sexual and reproductive health and rights, including information and education. It will therefore be necessary for civil society organizations to remain vigilant to ensure that they are full integrated into the 2030 Agenda at all levels.

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