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Reducing premature mortality as the Sustainable Development Goal for Health

As the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals approaches, there has been a lively debate about the next generation of global goals and targets: the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. The 17 SDGs include a single goal for health (“Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”), with 13 subgoals and targets addressing maternal and child health, infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, accidents and injuries and several other conditions. However, the overarching goal of ensuring healthy lives has not been expressed so far as a measureable target.

The IEA joined the discussion on the SDGs in May 2013, by posting an official position paper on the World We Want website, followed by a letter to The Lancet. We argued that it was essential to have a single quantifiable target to monitor progress, and we suggested that if should be based on life expectancy at different ages, as a summary indicator of social, environmental, and health-care related determinants.

We are pleased to see that our proposal has been further elaborated—as well as made more concrete—by an eminent group of scientists in Lancet. With Prof Richard Peto (who recently received the IEA Richard Doll Prize) as the senior author, the group recommends a 40% reduction in premature mortality as the overarching health goal, a concept that is closely related to our earlier suggestion of a life-expectancy based indicator.

Cesar Victora

IEA Past President


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