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Can we achieve health for all women, children, and adolescents by 2030?

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Can we achieve health for all women, children, and adolescents by 2030?

First comprehensive report at five-year mark shines a light on action needed to meet 2030 global health targets 

As we enter the last decade of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), a new collection of articles published by The BMJ and BMJ Global Health today tells us whether the world is on track to meet the 2030 global targets for health.

The collection Leaving No One Behind brings together key international actors to report on the progress made—and to highlight the ongoing challenges leading to unequal outcomes—in achieving this goal. It is the first comprehensive five-year report in the SDG-era on progress made on women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health. 

The articles are written by university academics and UN scientists from around the world, and includes commentaries by Countdown to 2030 for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health, the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF UNFPA and the UN Secretary General’s Independent Accountability Panel, and PMNCH Board Chair and former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark.

The collection focuses on areas where the most vulnerable women, children and adolescents are being left behind. This includes essential health interventions for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health and nutrition, such as skilled birth attendance, vaccinations, management of childhood illnesses, improved water supply, and insecticide treated bed nets to prevent malaria.

Some key findings in the research include:

  • There is little evidence that the SDG mantra of leaving no one behind has led to a rapid reduction in the inequalities within countries.
  • There are huge inequalities in Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) levels across low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). Poorer, younger and less educated women are particularly vulnerable to IPV exposure in most countries.
  • Essential health services such as family planning, delivery care and immunization still do not reach the poorest, least educated and rural women and children in many countries.
  • In conflict settings these inequalities are even greater than in non-conflict settings
  • Efforts to reach universal coverage for many interventions tend to stall when national coverage levels get to around 80%, revealing the extra effort needed to reach the most vulnerable people.
  • Poor quality of care is still a major factor limiting the impact of health services.
  • Countries in sub-Saharan Africa are lagging behind on most health indicators, including adolescent sexual and reproductive health.
  • Collecting and using disaggregated data is the only way to track progress and hold governments and the global community to account in the effort to leave no one behind.

The collection will be formally launched at the Prince Mahidol Award Conference (PMAC) in Bangkok on Tuesday 28 January 2020 to stimulate discussion and exchange among government ministers, policy makers, funders and key NGOs.

The BMJ Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Fiona Godlee, will also chair the opening conference session alongside former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and the Prime Ministers of India and Japan.

In an editorial to launch the collection, experts say progress is being made, but better data and extra effort is needed to identify and reach the most vulnerable people.

Helen Clark, PMNCH Board Chair and former Prime Minister of New Zealand, discusses two articles on the effects of intimate partner violence and warfare and argues that “unless we act now, the most vulnerable will continue to suffer the worst consequences of violence and abuse of power.”

“Today, five years closer to 2030, it is hard to see the impact of the SDG language on leaving no one behind,” said Dr. Ties Boerma, Director of the Countdown to 2030 and editor of the Collection. “We need better evidence on inequalities and greater action to reach all women, children and adolescents.”



Notes to editors:

Embargoed link to collection:
Public link once embargo lifts: 

For further information or to request a BMJ spokesperson, please contact BMJ media relations team:
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