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New Sustainable Development Goals in Healthcare

Sustainable development goals (SDGs) are “a new, universal set of goals, targets, and indicators” that the countries-members of the United Nations are expected to apply as a pattern for planning their activities and developing political policies during the following 15 years (Ford, 2015, para. 1). These goals apply to diverse spheres including health care. The paper is dedicated to the review of new sustainable development goals, a detailed examination of a goal related to healthcare issues, and observation of the role of nursing in achieving new sustainable development goals.

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Review of New Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the UN countries formulated a set of goals with intentions to “end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all” as a component of a new sustainable development agenda (The United Nations, 2018). 17 goals address different areas in the life of society that need improvement. Goal 1 aims to end poverty everywhere because it is still a global problem related not only to poor income but also resulting malnutrition, the lack of access to education, and other problems.

Goal 2 implies ending hunger, achieving food security, and improvement of nutrition globally. Goal 3 presupposed ensuring healthy lives of people and promotion of well-being for everyone disregarding age. Goal 4 is related to education, which is expected to be inclusive and of high quality. Goal 5 promotes the achievement of gender equality, which mainly presupposes empowerment of girls and women.

Goal 6 aims to resolve the burning problem of access to clean water in every part of the world. Goal 7 was developed to provide all nations with reliable and affordable sources of energy. Goal 8 promotes economic issues related to employment and decent work for all employees. Goal 9 involves the creation of resilient infrastructure, promotion of industrialization, and innovation empowerment. Goal 10 is directed at the reduction of inequality both on local and global levels (The United Nations, 2018). Goal 11 aims to create safe, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable cities that will simplify their maintenance.

Goal 12 implies ensuring sustainable production and consumption, which are related to resource and energy efficiency. Goal 13 is related to one of the burning environmental issues, which is climate change and its consequences. Goal 14 calls for conservation and sustainable use of marine resources as well as seas and oceans since they regulate a great part of life on the Earth. Goal 15 is responsible for life on land, sustainable management of forests, elimination of desertification, and prevention of land degradation and biodiversity loss. Goal 16 includes the promotion of just, peaceful, and inclusive societies (The United Nations, 2018). Finally, Goal 17 demands global partnership to empower the achievement of all the goals and provide sustainable development for humanity.

Sustainable Development Goal: Good Health and Well-Being

The Sustainable Development Goal related to a population healthcare issue is Good Health and Well-Being (The United Nations, 2018). The elected healthcare issue is maternal health. In its context, the sustainable development goal implies action aimed at life expectancy increase and reduction of factors causing maternal mortality. In recent decades, maternal mortality already decreased by almost 50% (“Good health and well-being,” 2018). Nevertheless, it is still high in some districts of Asia and Africa. The target of this goal related to maternity health includes the decrease of maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 by 2030.

This goal has the potential to enhance the provision of maternal health care. For example, such targets as the elimination of tuberculosis and AIDS epidemics, improvement of availability of reproductive healthcare services, and increase in funding healthcare development are expected to have a positive impact on health care as a whole and maternal health in particular. Elimination of epidemics is favorable for the health of the whole population, and better availability of reproductive health care services allows reproductive planning, which helps to preserve maternal health.

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One of the agencies involved in helping countries to meet the Good Health and Well-Being goal is UN Women. It is a global agency advocating the equity and rights of women and girls in diverse aspects including health (“About UN Women,” 2018). It works to provide the meeting of needs of the female population worldwide. Currently, certain progress is observed in achieving the Good Health and Well-Being goal.

Thus, the World Health Organization (2018) reveals the following statistics about the target related to a reduction of the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100 000 live births by 2030. However, complications during pregnancy or childbirth became reasons for 303 000 deaths of women in 2015. Still, the majority of deaths (99%) were registered in low- and middle-income countries. Thus, the reduction of maternal mortality is significantly influenced by the access that women have to quality care before, during, and after childbirth (World Health Organization, 2018).

Lim et al. (2016) discovered sustainable development goals health-related index which proved to be the highest in Iceland (85.5) and the lowest in the Central African Republic (20.4). Therefore, it can be stated that low- and middle-income countries lack progress in achieving the goal under consideration in the aspect of maternity health. It can be explained by poor funding of healthcare in these countries and poor access to family planning and healthcare services on the whole.

The Role of Nursing in Achieving New Sustainable Development Goals

Nurses as participants of primary health care can contribute to achieving sustainable development goals. First of all, primary care teams with the participation of nurses provide daily practice thus contributing to different SDGs such as helping to end poverty, improve nutrition, provision of health education, empowerment of community members, and advocating justice, etc. (Pettigrew et al., 2015). Nurses have an opportunity to influence the population starting from the community level. Working with a certain community, nurses are aware of the existing problems that the SDGs and can introduce interventions to improve the situation.

For example, nurses working with pregnant women or young mothers can assess their needs and problems and assist in satisfying those needs and solving the problems. In such a way, nurses support the achievement of New Sustainable Development Goals on the community level thus contributing to global improvements.


To summarize, it should be mentioned that New Sustainable Development Goals are a logical continuation of the Millennium Development Goals that were determining the progress of the UN member countries during 15 years of the twenty-first century. SDGs are more detailed and comprise more burning problems that humanity faces and which need to be solved to provide sustainable development. Thus, joint efforts are necessary to advance the achievement of these goals and provide sustainable progress and preserve the resources necessary for mankind.


About UN Women. (2018). Web.

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Ford, L. (2015). Sustainable development goals: All you need to know. The Guardian. Web.

Good health and well-being. (2018). Web.

Lim, S., Allen, K., Bhutta, Z., Dandona, L., Forouzanfar, M., Fullman, N., … Murray, C. (2016). Measuring the health-related Sustainable Development Goals in 188 countries: A baseline analysis from the global burden of disease study 2015. The Lancet, 388(10053), 1813-1850. Web.

Pettigrew, L., De Maeseneer, J., Anderson, M., Essuman, A., Kidd, M., & Haines, A. (2015). Primary health care and the Sustainable Development Goals. The Lancet, 386(10009), 2119-2121. Web.

The United Nations. (2015). The Millennium development goals report 2015. Web.

The United Nations. (2018). Sustainable development goals – United Nations. Web.

World Health Organization. (2018). Progress towards the SDGs: A selection of data from World Health Statistics. Web.

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