SDG 3 - Good health and well-being

We must achieve universal health coverage and access to quality health care. 

(Preamble – Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) 



On this page...

  • About this goal
  • Why does his goal matter to the church
  • Where do we find inspiration?

About this Goal

Good health is essential to sustainable development 
(United Nations Development Programme)

SDG 3 focuses on physical and mental well-being, accessibility of health-care services, and healthy living conditions.

Disease is one of the main factors that push households from poverty into deprivation. Improved sanitation and hygiene and increased access to physicians are needed. Recognizing the interdependence of health and development, SDG 3 aspires to ensure health and well-being for all.

While the overall rate of maternal and infant deaths has dropped significantly in recent years, the rate in developing countries – and among vulnerable populations in developed countries – remains far too high.

The goal is to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. 

The United Nations has named 13 targets in order to meet the goal by 2030. Seven of these relate directly to existing or potential church mission work, programs and initiatives: 


3.1 Reduce the global maternal mortality ratio  

3.2 End preventable deaths of new-borns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality 

3.3 End the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases 

3.4 Reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being 

3.5 Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol 

3.7 Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes 

3.8 Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all. 


The selection of these targets does not underestimate the importance of the otherbut rather attempts to maximize the synergy and throttle needed to fuel efforts by churches and church-related organizations to help meet the goal of ensuring health and well-being for all. 


Why does this matter to a church?

Care for the physical and mental health needs of members of the community has long been a concern for Christian churches. Jesus' birth as a child affirms God's love and care for creation that includes the well-being of our bodies. Drawing on the healing work of Jesus in the gospels, early Christians saw attending to physical needs as part of the vocation of the church. From the first Christian hospital in Caesarea in the late 4th century to today, churches have seen health care as an important expression of their faith in the God who creates and sustains human bodies.  


A ministry of healing is integral to the life and mission of the Church.  

(Caring for Health: Our Shared Endeavor – Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) 

Today churches play an important role in the delivery of health services in many developing countries and in crisis situations. At the moment churches are working hard to fight Covid-19.

For example, in Tanzania faith-based organizations provide more than 40 percent of healthcare services and have been in the forefront of serving poor and marginalized communities in rural and hard-to-reach areas of the country. This includes sexual and reproductive health services that raise awareness about overcoming harmful practices such as early marriage and female genital mutilation. Mapping of Faith-based Actors' Contributions to Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4, 5, 10 and 16 in Tanzania can be found from here.

Where do we find inspiration? 

The healing stories told in Christian scriptures demonstrate God’s concern for the physical health of bodies. By healing through touch, Jesus crossed the firmly established lines between clean and unclean which often marginalized people with illness, injury or disability. Jesus demonstrated not only care and concern but solidarity and love for all people. In doing so, his actions were a witness against the common belief at the time that illness or disability was a sign of God’s disfavor. To the contrary, Jesus taught by action that God’s desire was for human physical well-being and that hospitality, concern, and love ought to be shown to all people, regardless of ability or illness. 

In the story of the healing of the woman with a hemorrhage, Jesus demonstrates God's concern for physical well-being by touching someone who is bleeding, a gesture that would have been unheard of at the time for a Jew. He was not willing to be constrained by social forces that marginalized women – forces that would have made it taboo for him to have physical contact with women, especially a woman with a hemorrhage. 

Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians,no one could cure her.She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped.Then Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.”But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.”When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed.He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” 

(Luke 8:43-48) 


Additional inspiration is offered by these stories of healing found in the bible. 

One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting nearby (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal.Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus;but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. (Luke 5:17-19)