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  • From MDG to SDG: good news for child health?

The global health community saw health seemingly take a knock in priority in the Sustainable Development Goals, with a reduction in the number of goals centring on health from three in eight Millenium Development Goals to just one in 17 of the new goals.
But is this really bad news? What do the SDGs really mean for global child health? trustee Dr Dan Magnus contributed to an article in The Lancet this month, commenting on the progress made so far, and what the new goals might mean for the world’s children.
The article, contributed by Dan and fellow child health experts, Sebastian Taylor, Bhanu Williams, Anu Goenka and Neena Modi, suggests that the Sustainable Development Goals “offer substantial, and possibly strengthened, opportunities to improve child health worldwide and in the UK.”
They discuss the challenges facing the health service here in the UK and our need to prioritise neonatal and under-5 mortality as well as discussing how the SDGs should be measured and worked towards globally.
The article emphasises that child health targets cannot be looked at in isolation, but should be considered in relation to and alongside other goals:
“In view of the importance of social determinants, progress in health indicators under SDG3 should be gauged in relation to composite progress in other goals.
“Globally, social determinants, including socioeconomic and deeply rooted gender inequalities, remain a key obstacle to child wellbeing. In 2002–12, a quarter of developing countries surveyed had a divergence in child mortality between the richest and poorest population terciles.
“It is estimated that, if under-5 mortality rates in low-income countries were reduced to those for the top 10% of the population, global child mortality would fall from 6·6 million to 3·7 million deaths per year.”
This is further support for’s holistic view of development. By tackling one problem in isolation, we can have less impact than if we look at all the problems holding children back, and tackle them in a coordinated way. We know that to tackle child health, we also need to look at aspects of their life covered by the other goals, from no hunger to sustainable cities and communities.
This is precisely why are not tied to a specific solution to improve the wellbeing of children. We do what that child needs us to. We do what works. 
Read the full article for free online on The Lancet website.


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