To be well

How is Bangladesh performing in hitting the SDG-3 health goals for its population?

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of international development objectives for a better future. The United Nations established these goals and marketed them as “Global Goals for Sustainable Development.” Sustainable development is not just about environmental protection and economic development; it also covers social and human development.

SDG-3, in particular, focuses on key objectives that raise the general health of a nation's population in order to reduce people’s suffering from easily preventable diseases and premature mortality. Priority regions are those with the highest disease loads and underserved demographics.

In short, “health and wellbeing” can be described as the primary focus of this particular SDG.

Globally, 76% of women who are of reproductive age (15 to 49) had their needs for family planning addressed by modern contraceptive techniques in 2019. In 2000, there were 56 births per 1,000 teenage girls. In 2019, there were 44. According to information that is currently available, more than 55% of all countries have fewer than 40 nurses and midwives per 10,000 people, and over 40% of all countries have fewer than 10 medical doctors per 10,000 people.

All LDCs had fewer than 10 medical physicians, fewer than five dentists, and fewer than five pharmacists per 10,000 people, and 98% had fewer than 40 nurses and midwives per 10,000 people.

Poor health is the most fundamental kind of pain and hardship in South Asia. Despite advancements made worldwide, South Asian nations account for a growing percentage of child fatalities. Since the year 2000, the prevalence of serious infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis has decreased globally; yet, many regions, especially South Asia, continue to face the threat posed by these and other diseases.

Globally, there has been tremendous progress in developing new drugs, vaccines, and medical technologies, but South Asia still struggles to provide everyone with affordable access to quality healthcare.

To that end, the Bangladesh government has taken some initiatives to achieve SDG-3: The fourth Health Nutrition and Population Sector Program (HNPSP) is the first of three subsequent programs that will be executed by 2030 to help Bangladesh meet SDG-3 and the health, population, and nutrition sector targets. The national strategy plan for TB control (2018–2022) is currently being implemented, and Bangladesh has also produced a health care waste management plan (HCWMP).

The SDGs offer fresh context for approaching health, nutrition, and population in a more comprehensive and multi-sectoral manner, which is represented in Bangladesh’s 4th HPNSP.

In order to ensure that SDGs are effectively linked to communities, the government has launched the Upazila Governance Project to educate key local government officials about all SDGs and targets, including SDG-3, as well as the roles and responsibilities of local government institutions (LGIs) in implementing and localizing the goals by creating action plans at the local level.

The government can take a few necessary steps to achieve this goal. Such as:

  • Specific and targeted efforts are needed to address the limited scope in accessing quality health services in the lagging regions and for the marginalized communities
  • Any policies should focus on improving child and maternal health, reducing disparity regarding health care services, reducing out-of-pocket expenses, particularly in the rural and hard-to-reach areas
  • Focus should also be placed on sectors, geographic locations and groups that are more isolated and disadvantaged through increasing availability and quality of social services and programmes for the poorest and most excluded groups
  • To improve family planning and welfare services in hard-to-reach and low-performing areas, adequate capacity needs to be developed and trained staff needs to be deployed to accelerate the catching up process

In the end, the main priority of SDG-3 is ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages, which is essential to sustainable development. We believe Bangladesh will likely complete it on schedule for the betterment of its citizens. 

Forhad H Majumder is a freelance contributor.