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Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Good health starts with nutrition. Without the security of daily food (nutrients, calories, vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients), humans cannot live, learn, prosper or lead healthy and productive lives.

Firstly, food must be safe. With a large quantity and variety of food travelling the globe today, the Codex Alimentarius or "Food Code", established by FAO and the World Health Organization in 1963, has never been more relevant in developing harmonised international food standards that protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food trade. FAO works to strengthen the capacities of governments and private sector institutions, ensuring food quality and safety throughout the food chain, from production and processing, to retail and consumption.

FAO also helps households, communities and countries diversify their food production and access more diverse diets through income generation and livelihoods support.

Improving maternal health is key to saving the lives of millions of women each year and breaking the vicious cycle that perpetuates poverty, hunger and malnutrition from one generation to the next.

Heavy workloads, combined with poor diets and frequent pregnancies, severely weaken women’s health. FAO prioritizes women and girls’ nutrition and promotes nutrition awareness among women, especially in rural areas.

Curbing endemic disease burdens such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, brucellosis, rabies or the ever-present threat of pandemic influenza can also have a significant impact on food security and nutrition.

Over 70 percent of human diseases originate in animals. Healthy animals contribute to healthy people and to sustainable food production. FAO contributes to improving animal health by promoting approaches aimed at making animal production more efficient and sustainable, and in establishing best practices in preventing and controlling diseases which threaten animal production, public health and trade.

Facts and figures

  • Malnutrition is the single largest contributor to disease in the world
  • Almost half of all child deaths are linked to malnutrition
  • 5.9 million children under the age of five died in 2015
  • Loss of productivity and direct health care spending associated with malnutrition may account for as much as 5 percent of global GDP, equivalent to USD 3.5 trillion a year.
  • Despite determined global progress, an increasing proportion of child deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. Four out of every five deaths of children under age five occur in these regions.
  • HIV is the leading cause of death for women of reproductive age worldwide
  • Children born into poverty are almost twice as likely to die before the age of five as those from wealthier families.
  • Over 70 percent of human diseases originate in animals
  • Food-borne pathogens account for 420 000 deaths each year, and at least 1 in 10 people fall ill every year from eating contaminated food.
  • Children under 5 years of age are at particularly high risk of food-borne infections, with 125 000 children dying from foodborne diseases every year.  

SDG3 Targets

  1. By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births
  2. By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births
  3. By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases
  4. By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being
  5. Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol
  6. By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents
  7. By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes
  8. Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all
  9. By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination

a. Strengthen the implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in all countries, as appropriate

b. Support the research and development of vaccines and medicines for the communicable and noncommunicable diseases that primarily affect developing countries, provide access to affordable essential medicines and vaccines, in accordance with the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, which affirms the right of developing countries to use to the full the provisions in the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights regarding flexibilities to protect public health, and, in particular, provide access to medicines for all

c. Substantially increase health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce in developing countries, especially in least developed countries and small island developing States

d. Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks 

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