SDG Goal 3 in Vietnam During the U.N. Summit for 2015, world leaders decided on 17 goals that they would like to track around the world. These goals would help motivate changes for a better future and identify where these changes were most needed. Titled, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — these goals range from conserving and creating a sustainable industry in the ocean (SDG goal 14) to ending poverty in all forms (SDG goal 1). Moreover, the U.N. rates the status of a country and its ability to achieve a certain SDG by 2030. This article will provide a brief update on SDG goal 3 in Vietnam.

Vietnam, a country located in Southeast Asia, has achieved several of the goals. For instance, Vietnam has achieved the goals for quality education (SDG 4), responsible consumption and production (SDG 12) and climate action (SDG 13). One of the goals, however, the “Good Health and Well-Being” (SDG 3) has been rated as the furthest from achievement with the “major challenges remain” status.

SDG 3: A Deep Dive

The description of SDG 3 is simple but will require a great effort to achieve; “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” Some of the sub-scores — specific statistics that have led Vietnam to the depleted state of wellness and well-being goal include the high incidences of tuberculosis, traffic deaths and the percentage of surviving infants who received two Word Health Organization recommended vaccines.

Some of the greatest identified challenges include the control of communicable diseases, such as the aforementioned tuberculosis score, creating healthcare equality and accessibility. These issues share a strong connection because some new policies that have improved the control of communicable diseases in one sector are not established in others.

Improvements to SDG 3

Though the scores may be an indicator of a national problem in Vietnam, they have led to great improvements. In response to the inaccessibility score, the health service delivery has improved greatly. For example, there has been an increase in investment for healthcare facilities that are accessible to all Vietnamese. Also, the ability of Vietnamese to pay for healthcare is increasing as the coverage from insurance rises. In 2017, 86.4 % of Vietnamese had health insurance. Moreover, the National Tuberculosis Control Programme helps identify those who need treatment. This has continued to reduce the incidence over the years.

Traffic accidents are another low score for SDG goal 3 in Vietnam — something unique to the country. Accidents, injuries and deaths are all counted into the well-being score for SDG 3 in Vietnam. While the number of incidences has decreased, an estimated 14,000 people continue to lose their lives due to traffic accidents each year. The National Traffic Safety Committee and WHO have started a road safety project that works on reducing the number of deaths and accidents. The initiative holds a large focus on motorcycle safety and the prevention of drinking while driving.

What is Currently Being Done?

The inequality and inaccessibility for healthcare and sources of well-being, such as nutritious and reliable sources of food are especially culpable concerning child mortality statistics. The national statistics show a hopeful decreasing trend but have revealed stunning discrepancies between ethnic and regional groups. Highlighting this — child mortality in some mountainous regions in the Northwest and Central Highlands are four times as high as the national average. To create a way in which all children can be treated equitably, the Sustainable Health Development Center (VietHealth) has developed many programs to help mobilize primary care, screenings and disability care.

Vietnam is currently facing several different challenges in reaching the SDGs for 2030. However, with the help of (among others) the National Tuberculosis Control Programme, the road safety programs and VietHealth, much progress can be made in the next decade. Vietnam and the U.N.’s SDGs have proved to be a valuable resource for highlighting severe issues and motivating organizations and governments to improve conditions for citizens around the world.

Jennifer Long
Photo: Flickr

Tuberculosis in BangladeshTuberculosis (TB) is an airborne disease; common symptoms include cough with sputum and blood in some cases, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats. TB can lead to the death of an infected person when left untreated. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), TB has caused about 2 million deaths worldwide, and 95% of deaths were recorded in developing countries. Bangladesh ranked sixth among high TB burden countries. The National Tuberculosis Control Programme (NTP) has attained more than 90% treatment success and more than a 70% case detection rate. Despite these successes, tuberculosis in Bangladesh remains a serious public health problem.

Reasons for Higher Infection of Tuberculosis in Bangladesh

  1.  Delays in the Initiation of Treatment: Patients in Bangladesh often receive late treatment. Delays in treatment increase chances of negative treatment results, death and community transmission of TB. A study on 1,000 patients reported that, on average, there were 61 days of delay in the treatment of women and 53 days of delay in the treatment of men.
  2.  Role of Informal Health Practitioners: Most of the impoverished people in Bangladesh prefer to go to their local practitioners due to the ease of accessibility and low cost. A recent survey showed that approximately 60% of the Bangladesh population prefers to go to these uncertified doctors. However, such doctors typically lack formal training. This may lead difficulties in accurately diagnosing and treating TB.
  3. Lack of Awareness: Directly observed treatment short-course (DOTS) has been recognized as one of the most efficient and cost-effective approaches for treating TB. In 1998, the DOTS program became an integrated part of the Health and Population Sector Programme. The inclusion of the DOTS strategy in the Programme helped TB services transition from TB clinics to primary level health facilities. These health facilities typically incorporate GO-NGO (government-organized non-governmental organization) partnerships, and the NGOs have advocated for work on literacy, social awareness along and health care development. As part of the Health and Population Sector Programme, DOTS is freely available to the public. Unfortunately, many remain unaware of the treatment option.  As a result, detection of new TB cases has stagnated at around 150,000 cases per year since 2006.
  4. Poverty: A large portion of the country is still suffering from poverty. Poverty can often lead to overcrowding and poorly ventilated living and working conditions. People with less income also cannot afford food, leading to higher incidences of malnutrition. The culmination of these factors typically make the impoverished population more vulnerable to contracting TB.

The Effort to Combat TB

Tuberculosis is a major public health problem in Bangladesh. However, continuous efforts by the NTP and various NGO organizations have played an important role in decreasing the spread of the disease. DOTS, for instance, demonstrated a 78% cure rate in 1993. Due to its success, a phase-based treatment plan was implemented in 67 million rural populations in 1996.  Since implementation, the NTP has attained a 90% treatment success rate. Further efforts to combat the disease include development of the FAST program (Find cases Actively, Separate safely and Treat effectively). The program intends to detect active TB cases and decrease spread of the disease in healthcare facilities. However, despite efforts by the NTP and a number of NGOs, significant delays in care-seeking and treatment initiation still exist as major hindrances to the program’s goals. 

Challenges to TB Programs

Tuberculosis in Bangladesh kills more than 75,000 people every year. Despite free services like DOTS and other NTP programs, limited access to quality service, lackluster funding and insufficient screening prevent adequate detection and treatment of the disease. The lowest quartile of the population is still five times more likely to contract TB, potentially due to a lack of awareness of TB-treatment programs among the general public. Adding to the problems for TB programs, private health professionals are typically inactive in national programs. While NTP programs have made progress in addressing the disease, these challenges persist, and tuberculosis remains a major health problem in Bangladesh.


To stop the growth of tuberculosis in Bangladesh, community organizations such as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) have shown impressive results in lowering the percentage of those afflicted by TB. Effective treatment of TB includes investment in medicine, local health services and diagnostics. To ensure full recovery, social protection of patients is also required. Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), for instance, requires two months of drug treatment and a four month continuation period. If treatment programs can satisfy requirements investment and social protection requirements, the chance of curing TB patients reaches 92%. The application of a more successful method will help in curing the most complex TB cases, such as drug-sensitive TB, with improved results. With the implementation of proper and effective treatment strategies, we can eliminate tuberculosis in Bangladesh and the benefit even the poorest members of society.

– Anuja Kumari

Photo: Pixabay

Top Diseases in Bangladesh
Bangladesh, a dense country of more than 160 million on India’s eastern border, has seen remarkable development in recent decades. A growing economy and enormous improvements in maternal health and food security have raised the quality of life for millions of Bangladeshis. Now, less than a third of the quickly urbanizing population lives under the poverty line, down from more than half. Bangladesh aims to have officially become a middle-income country by 2021.

Thousands of Bangladeshis, however, still suffer and die from easily preventable diseases every year. While the nation’s expenditure on health increased significantly in the past two decades, it still comprises only 3.7 percent of the national GDP. Improving public health is the biggest focus of international aid in Bangladesh, accounting for roughly 43 percent of all assistance committed to helping the country. The following are some of the top diseases in Bangladesh and what the government and international organizations are doing to fight them.

  1. Tuberculosis
    Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that can be deadly, especially for young children, if improperly treated. According to USAID, Bangladesh has one of the highest infection rates in the world. The World Health Organization reported that tuberculosis is the leading cause of death in the country. In 2012, nearly 70 thousand Bangladeshis died from tuberculosis.
    The Bangladeshi government and international aid organizations have labored to bring the tuberculosis rate down and save more patients, and they have seen tangible success. In the early 1990s, Bangladesh’s government established the National Tuberculosis Control Program (NTP) with the support of USAID, and today, 99 percent of people living in Bangladesh have access to effective detection and treatment services. USAID is continuing to provide funding for technology, infrastructure and drugs to control tuberculosis in Bangladesh, as well as prevent, detect and combat drug-resistant strains of the infection.
  2. Waterborne Diseases
    Bangladesh has yet to provide much of its population with access to quality sewage and water infrastructure. Only 16 percent of Bangladeshis living in rural areas have access to up-to-par latrines. As a result, millions of Bangladeshis are at risk for waterborne diseases, including hepatitis A and E and a wide variety of serious bacterial infections like typhoid and leptospirosis.
    Low water quality makes diarrheal diseases especially serious in Bangladesh. In fact, diarrhea is the seventh single biggest killer of children under 5 years of age in the country. According to, a nonprofit aiming to expand access to clean water globally, 100,000 children die from diarrheal diseases annually.
    Heavy rain is normal in Bangladesh and frequent floods exacerbate waterborne diseases by overflowing dirty water supplies into clean reservoirs and residential areas. Sixteen provinces in Bangladesh have suffered from severe flooding this summer, and local news is reporting thousands of new cases of waterborne diseases, with scores of deaths.
    The government and aid organizations are working to prevent the top diseases in Bangladesh primarily by widening access to clean water. UNICEF is working with the government to improve water infrastructure and also educate Bangladeshis about how to keep their water clean and avoid disease. Further, organizations like are providing grants and loans for sanitation projects across the country.
  3. Neonatal Sepsis
    Neonatal sepsis refers to bacterial blood infections in newborn babies, and it is the fourth biggest cause of death for children under 5 years of age in Bangladesh. According to UNICEF, such infections are the leading cause of mortality for newborn babies in Bangladesh; 80,000 of whom die less than a month after birth each year. Many common bacteria can cause neonatal sepsis. While infections are serious, they are easy to treat as long as they are detected early, and preventing neonatal sepsis can be as simple as providing mothers with clean environments for giving birth.
    Despite its struggle with neonatal sepsis, Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in maternal and neonatal health in the past 20 years and remains determined to improve obstetric care across the country. The nation has already achieved its millennium goals for maternal and child health and reduced child and maternal mortality by 60 percent since 1990. Bangladesh continues to upgrade obstetric health facilities and make them more accessible to citizens living in under-served regions.

A brief look at some of the top diseases in Bangladesh provides clear lessons about poverty and health. Simple and cheap improvements for health systems — things like basic antibiotics, proper latrines and clean places to give birth — can save millions of lives in developing countries.

Bangladesh still struggles with deadly diseases, but with determination, the country has already climbed beyond many of its goals and continues to promote public health and fight against preventable illnesses.

Charlie Tomb

Photo: Flickr