SDG 3 is more complex than we think
Sustainable Development Goal 3 reads: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” The connection between this particular SDG and One Health might seem simple and straightforward, but there are a lot more factors going on. If you have been following our fantastic blog posts and content for a while, by now you know that One Health represents the connections and co-advancement of human, animal, plant, and environmental health. In a few words, the health of our planet comprises all the realms living in it.
We will see in many examples how the health of humans, at all ages, is inherently connected to the health of the world that surrounds us. In fact, many of the SDG 3 listed targets themselves, can be traced back to their interdependency of the planet’s multiple realms. Let’s analyze some of those together.
Targets beyond human health
When looking at SDG 3 targets, my eye fell on many where I immediately thought “One Health!”, and that thought applies to most of them. Take, for example, SDG 3 target number 3.9: “By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination.” This clearly ties back and puts at the center of the issue the health of the environment that surrounds us, and the consequences that neglecting it can have for human health. Pollution and contamination are the main sources of poor health, as well as both non-communicable and infectious diseases, which are leading causes of mortality worldwide and represent an emerging threat to global health. Another example is SDG 3 target 3.d: “Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks.”
Warning and risk reduction, especially of diseases, comes in large part from animal surveillance and monitoring, which focuses on the health of animals around us (see the latest pandemic).
SDG 3 target 3.3 offers another great example: “By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases.” Some of these diseases mentioned are of a zoonotic nature, meaning that they have been or are passed from animals to humans,
ensuring the health of animals is tightly linked to achieving the goal outlined here.
Setting the progress
Thinking in a One Health manner means that reaching SDG 3 targets will be more efficient. SDG 3 clearly takes into account and expresses how important it is to ensure the health of our planet to ensure our own, and this can be seen in how the messages and information are laid out. Being aware of those connections will help “ensure healthy lives and well-being at all ages”, and ultimately progress towards co-advancing planetary health.