SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Inmaculada Peñas Jiménez
is an official of the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission
UN Goal 3 to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all is absolutely essential for achieving sustainable development in the world we live in. In this article, I would like to show some examples of how the European Union is actively engaged in achieving this goal.
Over the last two decades, a common effort by the international community significantly improved the health of millions of people. The EU contributed by supporting international agreements and providing financial support. In particular, maternal and child mortality was reduced thanks to the fight against infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria. Important issues remained, however, such as achieving health coverage for all, reducing the incidence of cardiovascular and mental diseases, overcoming antibiotic resistance, and reducing air and water pollution.
However, the fight against other infectious diseases must continue. Not only because of the huge negative effects of infectious diseases on health and society, which undermine countries’ productivity but also because they particularly affect the most vulnerable and marginalized populations, perpetuating the poverty cycle.
Combating poverty-related diseases requires improved nutrition, sanitary infrastructures, and appropriate, effective, safe, and accessible treatments, vaccines, and diagnostics for all. The problem is the low commercial interest in these products, which makes them unattractive for investment by pharmaceutical companies. Moreover, the countries most affected often do not have sufficient capacity to invest in research, and where they have support for this, they are often not coordinated, leading to duplication and waste.