Sustainable Development Goals Could Save 35 Million Lives

sustainable development goalsSave the Children, an organization which stands by the belief that “every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation,” has asked world leaders to leave no child behind with the coming of the 70th United Nations Global Assembly (UNGA) recently held in New York on Sept. 25.

Over the next 15 years, the agency believes that as many as 6,500 lives per day could be saved, totaling 35 million globally over this time span alone. This could be achieved through the implementation of stronger healthcare systems, the provision of free healthcare to mothers and children as well as increasing the number of medically trained workers to aid in caring for sick children.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which replaced the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set in 2000, offer 17 new initiatives to be met by 2030 — these include ending extreme poverty, providing a better education and healthcare experience, ending violence against children and once and for all tackling malnutrition and preventable child deaths.

World leaders believe now is the time to act due to the “significant and historic window of opportunity” to mobilize and drive these changes forward. The SDGS offer a chance for the UN to pick up where it left off with the MDGs, and end the evident inequalities that still exist.

Today, accomplishments vary across places, with some success but glaring inequalities seen within countries, like the 2 million newborns dying within their first week of life every year or India’s exclusive treatment of diseases.

“The country’s narrow focus on specific diseases, such as HIV, TB and malaria, and population groups, has also created silos that have overlooked the broader needs of health systems,” explains Save the Children.

Even with significant progress made in achieving global goals for education and the number of children out of school falling by almost half since 2000, the MDG of achieving universal primary education has still not been met.

Abongile Sipondo, head of advocacy at Save the Children South Africa, warns that the poorest children who do not receive a primary school education are the most vulnerable — reaching adulthood without the ability to read, write or count, which has a severe impact on their futures.

“Every child has the right to go to school, and South Africa has made significant progress in ensuring that children are attending, with 97 percent of children now registered, but whilst all of the richest children are finishing primary school, 15 percent of the poorest children do not even complete their primary education,” Sipondo says.

Currently, Save the Children states that 30 million people have pledged their support for Action 2015, which included tens of thousands of people worldwide engaging in mass rallies the night before the sustainable development goals were signed.

Time is of the essence for Action 2015, a citizens’ movement which collaborates with “2,000 organizations, networks and coalitions from over 150 countries united by the belief that 2015 is a critical year for progress in the fight against climate change, poverty and inequality,” states Save the Children.

For more information on how to become involved and help in the quest to end inequality, check out Action 2015’s website.

Nikki Schaffer

Sources: Save the Children, Action 2015
Photo: Flickr