How can we guarantee universal health and well-being?

#social action #business #SDG

Even though significant progress has been made in recent decades in increasing life expectancy and reducing child and maternal mortality, more initiatives and projects are still needed to completely eradicate various health and well-being issues.

According to the latest report published by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and other UN agencies, some 15,000 children die every day before their fifth birthday and, of these, 2.6 million die within their first month of life every year. The report anticipates that, if the current trends continue, 60 million children will also die — before their fifth birthday — between 2017 and 2030.

Also, 300,000 women die every year in childbirth. In 2017, 78% of women of childbearing age (aged between 15 and 49) who were married or living with a partner worldwide used a modern form of family planning, compared to 75% in 2000.

Faced with this situation, reducing the child and maternal mortality rate and ending epidemics became the third of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, approved in September 2015 during the Sustainable Development Summit, a meeting at which more than 150 heads of State and Government approved the 2030 Agenda.

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Keys to understanding child mortality worldwide

Who is affected?

5.6 million children under the age of five

died in 2016.

46,4% died during their first month of life

as a result of premature birth, low weight, infections, asphyxiation or birth trauma.

How is it distributed across the world?

52.5% is concentrated in Africa, 42.7% in Asia, 3.3% in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1.3% in North America and Europe and 0.2% in Oceania.

The 10 countries with the highest child mortality

are all in Africa, where for every 1,000 children under five born alive the following numbers die (— in thousands —):









African Rep.

Sierra Leone






Dem. Rep.
of Congo

Main causes

Lack of access to clean water and sanitation, malnutrition, low availability of vaccines and lack of good quality health care, leading to problems in childbirth and the spread of diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.


We must invest more resources to improve primary health systems — such as vaccines and antibiotics —, increase breastfeeding and the supply of clean water and nutrition. In addition, universal basic education must be promoted.


 SEE INFOGRAPHIC: Keys for understanding child mortality worldwide [PDF]

Why is the UN's health and well-being goal so important?

Approximately 95% of deaths under five years are concentrated in Africa, in countries such as Somalia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia, and in Asia, where the highest figures are seen in China, India and Pakistan.

Reducing the number of premature deaths requires progress in access to clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), which will help to reduce lethal and infectious diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis, and slow the spread of HIV. Quality, affordable health care, improved nutrition and increased availability of vaccines will also be critical to curbing child and maternal mortality.

Targets for the third Sustainable Development Goal

Although the number of maternal and child deaths has decreased since 1990, more resources are still needed to ensure a healthy life for and to promote the well-being of all people. The targets for 2030 are:

  • Reduce the global maternal mortality rate to less than 70 deaths per 100,000 live births.
  • Ensure that all countries decrease neonatal mortality to at least 12 per 1,000 live births and mortality of the under fives to at least 25 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • Guarantee universal access to sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, information and education.
  • Reduce the number of deaths and illnesses caused by hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution.