By Sola Ogundipe
AN estimated $371 billion annually from an initial $134 billion or $58 per person in new investments, is required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) health targets by 2030, according to a new study tagged The SDG Health Price Tag published in The Lancet Global Health.
The publication estimates costs and benefits of progressively expanding health services to reach 16 SDG health targets in 67 low- and middle-income countries that account for 75 per cent of the world’s population.
The analysis shows that investments to expand services towards universal health coverage and the other SDG health targets could prevent 97 million premature deaths globally between now and 2030, and add as much as 8.4 years of life expectancy in some countries. The SDG Health Price Tag models an “ambitious” scenario in which investments are sufficient for countries to attain the health targets in the SDGs by 2030, and a “progress” scenario in which countries get two thirds or more of the way to the targets.
The analysis shows that 85 per cent of these costs can be met with domestic resources, although as many as 32 of the world’s poorest countries will face an annual gap of up to US$ 54 billion and will continue to need external assistance.
It includes adding more than 23 million health workers, and building more than 415 000 new health facilities, 91 per cent of which would be primary health care centres.
The investments could prevent 97 million premature deaths – one in every five seconds over 15 years – including more than 50 million infants and children who are either stillborn or die before their fifth birthday, and 20 million deaths from non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
Life expectancy would increase by between 3.1 and 8.4 years, and 535 million years of healthy living would be added across the 67 countries.
The “progress” scenario would require new investments increasing from an initial $104 billion a year to $274 billion, or $41 per person, by 2030.
These investments would prevent about 71 million premature deaths and boost health spending as a proportion of GDP to an average of 6.5 per cent. More than 14 million new health workers would be added, and nearly 378 000 new health facilities built, 93 per cent of which would be primary health care centres.
The analysis includes targets in SDG Goal 3 (health and well-being) as well as targets from Goal 2 (zero hunger), Goal 6 (clean water and sanitation) and Goal 7 (affordable and clean energy).
The SDG Health Price Tag does not prescribe what countries should spend on health, but is intended as a tool to inform further research.
It also highlights that achieving universal health coverage and the other health targets requires not only funding but political will and respect for human rights.