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World Health Statistics 2018: Monitoring health for the SDGs

The World Health Statistics series is WHO’s annual snapshot of the state of the world’s health. This 2018 edition contains the latest available data for 36 health-related Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators. It also links to the three SDG-aligned strategic priorities of the WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work: achieving universal health coverage, addressing health emergencies and promoting healthier populations.
The series is produced by the WHO Department of Information, Evidence and Research, of the Health Metrics and Measurement Cluster, in collaboration with all relevant WHO technical departments. World health statistics 2018  focuses on the health and health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and associated targets by bringing together data on a wide range of health-related SDG indicators.

World health statistics 2018 is organized into three parts.

  • First, in order to improve understanding and interpretation of the data presented, Part 1 outlines the different types of data used and provides an overview of their compilation, processing and analysis. The resulting statistics are then publicized by WHO through its flagship products such as the World Health Statistics series.
  • In Part 2 summaries are provided of the current status of selected health-related SDG indicators at global and regional levels, based on data available as of early 2018. World health statistics 2018 links to the SDG-aligned strategic priorities of the WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work.
  • In Part 3, each of these three strategic priorities of achieving universal health coverage (UHC), addressing health emergencies and promoting healthier populations are illustrated through the use of highlight stories.


Download: World health statistics 2018: monitoring health for the SDGs, sustainable development goals. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2018. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.

Progress towards the SDGs: A selection of data from World Health Statistics 2018

SDG3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages

Target 3.1 By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100 000 live births

  • 303000 women died due to complications of pregnancy or childbirth in 2015. Almost all of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries (99%). Reducing maternal mortality crucially depends upon ensuring that women have access to quality care before, during and after childbirth.
  • Available data since 2007 shows that less than half of all births in several low- and middle income countries were assisted by skilled health personnel. Globally it is estimated that over 40% of all pregnant women were not receiving early antenatal care in 2013.

Target 3.2: By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1000 live births

  • Under-five mortality rates continued to improve in 2016 dropping to 41 per 1000 live births down from 93 per 1000 live births in 1990. Nevertheless, every day in 2016, 15 000 children died before reaching their fifth birthday. Neonatal mortality has fallen from 37 per 1000 live births in 1990 to 19 per 1000 live births in 2016.
  • With more young children now surviving, improving the survival of older children (aged 5 – 14 years) is an increasing area of focus. About 1 million such children died in 2016, mainly from preventable causes.

Target 3.3: By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases

  • In 2016, an estimated 1 million people died of HIV-related illnesses. The global scale-up of antiretroviral therapy (ART) has been the main driver of the 48% decline in HIV-related deaths from a peak of 1.9 million in 2005. However, ART only reached 53% of people living with HIV at the end of 2016.
  • After unprecedented global gains in malaria control, progress has stalled. Globally, an estimated 216 million cases of malaria occurred in 2016, compared with 237 million cases in 2010 and 210 million cases in 2013. The main challenge that countries face in tackling malaria is a lack of sustainable and predictable funding.

Target 3.4: By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being

  • The probability of dying from diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and chronic lung disease between ages 30 and 70 dropped to 18% in 2016, down from 22% in 2000. Adults in low- and lower-middle-income countries faced the highest risks – almost double the rate for adults in high-income countries. The total number of deaths from noncommunicable diseases is increasing due to population growth and ageing.
  • Almost 800 000 deaths by suicide occurred in 2016, with the highest rate in the European Region (15.4 per 100 000 population).

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

  • The global level of alcohol consumption in 2016 has remained stable since 2010 at 6.4 litres of pure alcohol per person aged 15 years or older. Target 3.6: By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents
  • Deaths from road traffic injuries have increased since 2000, reaching 1.25 million in 2013.
  • The deathrate due to road traffic injuries was 2.6 times higher in low-income countries (24.1 deaths per 100 000 population) than in high-income countries (9.2 deaths per 100 000 population), despite lower rates of vehicle ownership in low-income countries.

Target 3.7: By 2030, 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

  • An estimated 208 million women of reproductive age who are married or in-union worldwide are still not having their family planning needs met with a modern contraceptive method. This represents 23% of all women of reproductive age who are married or in-union and wish to limit or space pregnancies.
  • There are an estimated 12.8 million births among adolescent girls aged 15-19 years every year. Early childbearing can increase risks for newborns as well as for young mothers.

Target 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

  • At least half of the world’s population do not have full coverage of essential health services.
  • In 2010, an estimated 808 million people – 11.7% of the world’s population – spent at least 10% of their household budget paying out of their own pocket for health services. An estimated 97 million people were impoverished by out-of-pocket health-care spending in 2010.

Target 3.9: By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination

  • In 2016, outdoor air pollution in both cities and rural areas caused an estimated 4.2 million deaths worldwide.
  • In the same year, indoor and outdoor air pollution caused an estimated 7 million deaths, or – one in eight deaths globally.
  • Unsafe water, sanitation and lack of hygiene were responsible for an estimated 870 000 deaths in 2016.

Target 3.a: Strengthen the implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in all countries, as appropriate

  • In 2016, more than 1.1 billion people smoked tobacco with 34% of all males 15 years and over against 6% of all females in this age group smoking.
  • During the period 2015-2016, over half (98) of WHO Member States strengthened their implementation of WHO FCTC through various measures, such as introducing or strengthening legislation requiring health warnings to appear on tobacco product packaging.

Target 3.b: Support the research and development of vaccines and medicines for the communicable and noncommunicable diseases that primarily affect developing countries, provide access to affordable medicines and vaccines, in accordance with the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, which affirms the right of developing countries to use to the full the provisions in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights regarding flexibilities to protect public health, and, in particular, provide access to medicines for all

  • In 2016, one in 10 children worldwide did not receive even the first dose of diphtheriatetanus-pertussis (DTP1) vaccine and coverage with the recommended three doses of the vaccine was 86%, a level which has essentially remained unchanged since 2010.

Target 3.c: Substantially increase health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce in developing countries, especially in least-developed countries and small-island developing States

  • In the period 2007 – 2016, 76 countries reported having less than one physician per 1000 population.
  • In the same period, 87 countries reported having fewer than three nursing and midwifery personnel per 1000 population. Target 3.d: Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks.
  • In 2017, 167 States Parties (85% of all StatesParties) responded to the self-assessment questionnaire that is used to assess the implementation status of 13 core capacities. The average core capacity score of all reporting countries was 72%.

Selected health-related targets outside SDG3

Target 2.2: By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons

  • In 2017, 151 million children under 5 (22%) were stunted (too short for their age), with three quarters of these children living in the South-East Asia Region or African Region.
  • 51 million children under the age of five (7.5%) were wasted (too light for their height) while 38 million children in this age group (5.6%) were overweight (too heavy for their height). Wasting and overweight may co-exist in a population at levels considered medium to high – the so-called “double burden of malnutrition” – as observed in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

Target 6.1: By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking-water for all

  • Safely managed drinking-water services – that is, located on premises, available when needed and free from contamination – were enjoyed by only 71% of the global population (5.2 billion people) in 2015.

Target 6.2: By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations

  • Safely managed sanitation services – with excreta safely disposed of in situ or treated off site – were available to only 39% of the global population (2.9 billion people) in 2015.

Target 7.1: By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services

  • Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking has gradually improved. In 2016, 59% of the world’s population were reliant primarily on clean fuels.
  • Population growth continues to outpace the transition to clean fuels and technologies, leaving 3 billion people still cooking with polluting fuel and stove combinations.

Target 11.6: By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management

  • More than half of the urban population was exposed to outdoor air pollution levels at least 2.5 times above the safety standard set by WHO.
  • It is estimated that 9 out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air.

Target 13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries

  • Over the period 2012–2016, on average there were 11 000 deaths globally each year due to natural disasters. Target 16.1: Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere
  • In 2016, an estimated 180 000 people were killed in wars and conflicts. This does not include deaths dues to the indirect effects of war and conflict such as the spread of diseases, poor nutrition and collapse of health services. The global death rate due to conflicts in the past five years (2012-2016), at 2.5 deaths per 100 000 population, was more than double the average rate in the preceding five-year period (2007-2011).
  • There were an estimated 477,000 murders, with four fifths of all homicide victims being male. Men in the Region of the Americas were the most affected (31.8 per 100 000 population).

Target 17.19: By 2030, build on existing initiatives to develop measurements of progress on sustainable development that complement gross domestic product, and support statistical capacity-building in developing countries

  • In 2016 49% of deaths were registered with a cause of death, ranging from 6% of deaths in the African region to 98% in the European region.

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