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The European Union and SDG 3. Health EN

by | Mar 14, 2021 | Europa, Gente | 0 comments

The European Union and SDG 3. Health


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. 


The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented global health crisis, as well as causing severe suffering, destabilizing the global economy, and drastically changing the lives of billions of people, it is also destroying the above-mentioned achievements. To fight COVID-19 and its consequences, the EU supports the World Health OrganisationStrategic Preparedness and Response Plan and coordinates an unprecedented mobilization of funds to contain the spread of the virus, support the research and counteract the socio-economic impact of the pandemic. 

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. 

This is why since 2003 the EU, together with 14 Europeans[1] and 16 African countries[2], has been working on the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), to accelerate the development of appropriate, effective, safe, and accessible treatments, vaccines, and diagnostics, in Sub-Saharan Africa. For example, thanks to the EDCTP, the access to HIV antiretroviral treatment for children has been increased in Africa; there are better diagnostic tests for tuberculosis and better treatments against malaria in children. In addition, the EDCTP is also contributing to the fight against COVID-19, as well as strengthening the capacity of sub-Saharan African countries to conduct high-quality clinical research by creating a strong generation of African researchers and clinicians. 


These are examples of how important it work together with a common vision.  


The information and views set out in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Commission.


Inmaculada Peñas Jiménez 

is an official of the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission

[1] Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the UK

[2] Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. 


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