Health is a fundamental human right and a key indicator of sustainable development. Poor health threatens the rights of children to education, limits economic opportunities for men and women and increases poverty within communities and countries around the world. In addition to being a cause of poverty, health is impacted by poverty and strongly connected to other aspects of sustainable development, including water and sanitation, gender equality, climate change, and peace and stability.
In recent years, notable progress has been made, but significant challenges remain. Women around the world continue to lack access to sexual and reproductive health care; thousands of new cases of HIV/AIDS continue to occur each day, billions of people are left without access to essential medicines, millions of adults and children will suffer from undernourishment this year, and the global amount of waste is estimated to triple in the coming year, with severe effects on health Further, with an increase in economic integration, mobility and political instability new health challenges and risks are emerging, threatening livelihoods in both the global North and South.
In order to accelerate progress and address new health challenges, all actors, including the private sector need to partner to develop health care solutions that work for people, families, communities, and nations. At minimum business has a responsibility to respect all human rights, including the right to health. Small, medium and large companies can both benefit from and contribute to achieving healthy societies. The SDGs provide a new opportunity for the private sector to support the delivery of health needs around the world through their products, services and business activities including value chains and distribution networks, communication activities, occupational health and safety practices and provision of employee benefits. By ensuring that workers have safe working conditions and access to health services, companies establish healthier staff and better relationships which in many cases has positive effects on productivity.