Monitoring the status of selected health related sustainable development goals: methods and projections to 2030

Glob Health Action. 2020 Dec 31;13(1):1846903. doi: 10.1080/16549716.2020.1846903.


Background: Monitoring Sustainable Development Goal indicators (SDGs) and their targets plays an important role in understanding and advocating for improved health outcomes for all countries. We present the United Nations (UN) Inter-agency groups' efforts to support countries to report on SDG health indicators, project progress towards 2030 targets and build country accountability for action. Objective: We highlight common principles and practices of each Inter-agency group and the progress made towards SDG 3 targets using seven health indicators as examples. The indicators used provide examples of best practice for modelling estimates and projections using standard methods, transparent data collection and country consultations. Methods: Practices common to the UN agencies include multi-UN agency participation, expert groups to advise on estimation methods, transparent publication of methods and data inputs, use of UN-derived population estimates, country consultations, and a common reporting platform to present results. Our seven examples illustrate how estimates, using mostly Bayesian models, make use of country data to track progress towards SDG targets for 2030. Results: Progress has been made over the past decade. However, none of the seven indicators are on track to achieve their respective SDG targets by 2030. Accelerated efforts are needed, especially in low- and middle-income countries, to reduce the burden of maternal, child, communicable and noncommunicable disease mortality, and to provide access to modern methods of family planning to all women. Conclusion: Our analysis shows the benefit of UN interagency monitoring which prioritizes transparent country data sources, UN population estimates and life tables, and rigorous but replicable modelling methods. Countries are supported to build capacity for data collection, analysis and reporting. Through these monitoring efforts we support countries to tackle even the most intransient health issues, including the pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 that is reversing the hard-earned gains of all countries.

Keywords: HIV; UN Sustainable Development Goals; family planning; incidence of TB; malaria; maternal and under-5 mortality; noncommunicable diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Bayes Theorem
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • Child Health / standards
  • Communicable Diseases / epidemiology
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • Maternal Health / standards
  • Noncommunicable Diseases / epidemiology
  • Organizational Objectives*
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United Nations / organization & administration*
  • United Nations / standards