Goal 3 aims to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all. This includes reducing premature deaths due to non-communicable diseases, addressing persistent and emerging health issues, and ensuring sufficient funding of health systems, improved sanitation and hygiene, and increased access to physicians. Universal health coverage is essential to achieving the goal and ending poverty and reducing inequalities.

BY 2030
  • Reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births.
  • 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 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births.
  • End the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases, and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases.
  • Reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.
  • Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol.
  • Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services,
  • Achieve universal health coverage, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.
  • Substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination.


people have no access to basic healthcare


children do not receive the vaccines required during the first year of life


of women who die during pregnancy live in low- and middle-income countries

Sustainable Development Goal 3 considers widening economic and social inequalities, rapid urbanisation, threats to climate change and the environment and the burden of infectious disease.
Since the implementation of the goals, great progress has been made in improving the health of millions of people. Life expectancy has increased dramatically and infant and maternal mortality rates have declined, while HIV and malaria deaths have halved. However, progress has been uneven within and between countries and the world is off track to achieve the targets of SDG3 by 2030.10
Data shows that despite progress made during the Millennium Development Goals, major challenges remain in reducing maternal, newborn and child mortality, improving nutrition, and ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
In 2017 SDG3 was reviewed at the High-Level Political Forum. It was reported that in many countries, weak health systems remained a major obstacle for access to even the most basic health services as well as inadequate preparedness for health emergencies. The review also highlighted gender inequalities in access to health care and services, reporting that provision of quality care is uneven, often failing to protect, promote and respect the rights and dignity of those who seek it, particularly women and girls. Inequities were also seen for migrants and refugee populations, which are often exposed to multiple health risks and lack access to health services.
Remarkable progress has been made in child survival worldwide, and millions of children under 5 years of age are more likely to survive today than in the year 2000. If the SDG target for under-5 mortality is met, the lives of an additional ten million will be saved by 2030. 

Concerted efforts are required to achieve universal health coverage and sustainable financing for health, to address the growing burden of non-communicable diseases including mental health, and to tackle determinants of health such as air pollution and inadequate water and sanitation.


Immunisation is widely recognised as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions. An estimated 19.9 million children did not receive the vaccines required during the first year of life, putting them at serious risk of potentially fatal diseases. The global coverage of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, which has the potential to significantly reduce deaths in children under the age of 5, has yet to reach 50 percent.
In 2019 at least half the world’s population, many of whom suffer financial hardship, were still without access to essential health services. In rich and poor countries alike, a health emergency can push people into bankruptcy or poverty.

Nearly 300,000 women continue to die annually from complications relating to pregnancy and childbirth. Over 90 per cent of them live in low- and middle-income countries.
The majority of maternal deaths are preventable through appropriate management and care, including antenatal care by trained health providers, assistance during delivery by skilled health personnel, and care and support in the weeks after childbirth. Ensuring that all births are assisted by skilled health professionals is critical not only to reducing maternal morbidity and mortality, but also to reducing stillbirths, morbidity and death among newborns.

Arguably the biggest challenge the work towards SDG 3 will face in the next decade is the response to the


Before the pandemic, major progress had been made in increasing life expectancy and reducing some of the common killers associated with child and maternal mortality. But more efforts are needed to fully eradicate a wide range of diseases and address many different persistent and emerging health issues. By focusing on providing more efficient funding of health systems, improved sanitation and hygiene, and increased access to physicians, significant progress can be made in helping to save the lives of millions.
Health emergencies such as COVID-19 pose a global risk and have shown the critical need for preparedness. The United Nations Development Programme highlighted huge disparities in countries’ abilities to cope with and recover from the COVID-19 crisis. While it is still unclear what the ultimate effect of the coronavirus will be, the initial assessments are sobering, with enormous loss of lives and livelihoods.


Seventy-five percent of Salvation Army territories are in a country or have a country within their territory that has a national policy on promotion of good health and well-being.
Almost 90 percent of territories have undertaken new programmes or initiatives relating to the promotion of good health and wellbeing over the last five years. Initiatives include but are not limited to:
  • HIV/AIDS support programmes
  • counselling services
  • rehabilitation and treatment centres
  • immunisation programmes
  • maternal and child care programmes
  • anti-human trafficking outreach
  • chronic disease self-management programmes
  • enhancing self-care of the elderly
  • end-of-life care
  • sex and anti-drug abuse education
  • youth-at-risk support programmes
  • water supply projects
  • supplying medical kits to doctors in rural areas
  • Salvation Army-run hospitals
  • free eye check-ups
  • malaria clinics
  • counselling for women who have experienced domestic violence
  • sport and exercise programmes
  • adult rehabilitation centres
  • shelters for homeless with chronic diseases
  • family planning counselling services
  • nutrition workshops
  • feeding mothers’ programmes
  • street hospitals for people with drug addictions
  • mobile health clinics
  • street football competitions for youth
  • rehabilitation through sailing programmes
  • medical services for victims of trafficking
  • medical support in refugee camps
  • campaigning for access for all to vaccinations
  • spiritual care, pastoral and wellbeing services


In rehabilitation and elderly services, multi-disciplinary service teams including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, nurses, clinical psychologists, educational psychologies. social workers and special childcare workers provide professional rehabilitation and treatment to children with special needs, persons with disabilities and the elderly.

of territories report that they have plans in place for future initiatives regarding the issue of good health and well-being. These include:
  • HIV/AIDS programmes
  • health care centres
  • feeding programmes
  • disability centres
  • programmes for widows living with HIV
  • programmes for the elderly
  • support of health care personnel, body, mind and soul classes,
  • developing strategic plans for promoting health and well-being.
  • creating wraparound social services, medical and dental care for elderly people
  • health security plans for Salvation Army employees
  • development of health and wellbeing workshops for women who have been exploited
  • rehabilitation and treatment centres
  • promotion of health and hygiene in rural communities
  • building community health centres
Three quarters of territories partner with other stakeholders and organisations to help with promoting the well-being and health of others. These partnerships included government health departments, other churches, national health services, child protection services, nursing clinics, local universities, social service organisations, local schools and teachers, clinical psychologists, educational psychologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, community leaders, NGOs, district health boards, mental health and addiction centres, sports clubs, psychiatrists, local food banks, counselling services, restaurants, supermarkets, and food distributors.


In San Lorenzo, Paruguay, The Salvation Army Tekokatu Medical Center goal is to educate patients on how to establish healthy, nutritious diets for their families, and to provide them with the resources they need to maintain their newly-developed eating habits.

In its first three years of service, the clinic has directly benefited 2,002 women, 229 men and 562 children. The centre is operated by Salvation Army personnel and includes medical doctors, nurses, psychologists and social workers. Services are offered at prices ranging from 30 to 58 percent less than other health centres in the area, with some qualifying patients receiving services at no charge.

When patients come in, they first undergo an initial assessment with a nurse before moving on to seeing the doctor, psychologist or gynaecologist for further diagnoses and prescriptions.

Clinic personnel identify children at risk of being malnourished and refer them to the clinic’s Milk and Oats programme. This programme offers a thorough screening process to determine a child's needs and provides participants with supplies of milk, oats, fruits, vegetables, eggs and vitamins over the course of six months. 

Mothers of Milk and Oats children are invited to participate in an eight-month series of nutritional workshops, where they receive training on how to keep their families healthy long-term. A total of six groups - three at the clinic and three more in neighbourhoods nearby - learn how to prepare healthy, nutritious, affordable meals using locally available foods. Many participants in the programme have stated that prior to the workshop they believed that eating healthy was too expensive, but the programme has introduced them to inexpensive, nutritious staples.

As well as seeing patients at the clinic, the team at Tekokatu is passionate about working in the surrounding communities. The clinic sees the importance of not only diagnosing and treating illnesses, but also educating communities in illness prevention and social issues such as domestic violence and human trafficking.

Community workshops are held with each one hosted by a different member of the community. Participants gather under trees next to the host’s home, each bringing his or her own seat. Establishing hosts within the communities has led to greater engagement and understanding of these issues and has increased the clinic’s reach to encompass those who might not normally visit the permanent facility.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), The Salvation Army is taking practical steps to help prevent the spread of the Ebola virus among the population of Goma, in the far east of the country. 

The current outbreak, which started in August 2018, is the largest-ever Ebola outbreak in DRC with more than 900 cases and almost 600 deaths attributed to the virus in North Kivu and Ituri provinces alone.

There is a high risk of further geographical spread of the outbreak to Goma, a short distance away from areas of confirmed cases. The Salvation Army’s project aims to minimise the spread of the virus by promoting rigorous handwashing, building awareness and knowledge of the condition, and fighting against the stigma associated with the virus.

Three hundred and eighty schools and 120 churches and mosques have been provided with hygiene and handwashing kits and educational resource material supporting the public health advice. The Salvation Army has also fully equipped the entire staff of 10 local clinics with protective clothing including boots, glasses, face masks, gloves and biohazard suits. Additionally, triage centres have been constructed for each of the 10 clinics. The Salvation Army project team has completed two- or five-day Train the Trainer courses for all health centre leaders, school leaders and religious leaders. The newly-trained leaders are then tasked with training a further 10 leaders each.


Technology is also being used to good effect, with the online messaging platform WhatsApp being utilised to provide a continuing stream of verified and updated information to the leaders who have undergone the hygiene training. WhatsApp will also enable community leaders to ask questions and receive accurate advice on the best approaches to hygiene and disease prevention.

The Salvation Army has also been active in improving knowledge about the causes and effects of the epidemic, and training key community leaders in prevention techniques. The Salvation Army’s own facilities in Goma are being improved with the installation of new toilets, a clean water tank and solar panels, as well as general repairs.


In 2018, devastating earthquakes, liquefaction and aftershocks struck Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi region. With a strong presence in the badly-hit city of Palu, local Salvation Army teams were able to react immediately, in spite of incurring personal loss. Provision of basic food, water and shelter was enhanced by the delivery of healthcare services for those physically hurt during the quakes and for individuals presenting with mental health challenges brought on by the terrifying events.

The Salvation Army’s Woodward Hospital treated 789 patients on site in the two weeks following the initial earthquake, despite having to evacuate the premises twice. As road infrastructure damage adversely affected access to hospital facilities, Salvation Army medics took mobile clinics to 12 locations and provided 27 surgeries. These ensured that a further 950 individuals received professional healthcare services.

To address issues such as mental health and well-being The Salvation Army worked closely with a local university. Trauma healing sessions were implemented in 15 separate locations. To meet demand, The Salvation Army’s Indonesia Territory trained extra officers in trauma counselling, and these reinforcements were sent to Central Sulawesi to support the team already on the ground. Local radio also played an important role in keeping communities informed. The Salvation Army-run Cakrawala Radio broadcasts to many remote settlements in Sulawesi and was able to share accurate news and information about the disaster response immediately after the disaster.

Hospital Spotlight

The Salvation Army works in 131 countries and in all of these Salvationists respond to the health concerns in their communities. In addition to church-based programmes, The Salvation Army currently has 172 health facilities in 37 countries, focusing on healthcare and the prevention of disease. These include 38 hospitals and 134 clinics and health posts, as well as a number of mobile clinics either attached to health facilities or running out of Territorial or Command Headquarters. In 2019, these health facilities cared for 237,569 in-patients and 1,454,233 out-patients.

The Salvation Army around the world provides professional training through 14 nursing and midwifery schools and one laboratory training school.

The different Salvation Army health care facilities provide care covering a range of different conditions, in line with the needs within their geographic location. The types of services provided include:

  • Maternal and child health services
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Detection and management of communicable disease e.g. HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and leprosy
  • Detection, monitoring and management of non-communicable conditions e.g. diabetes and hypertension
  • Early detection and management of cancers
  • Emergency care
  • Infectious diseases e.g. malaria, cholera, bilharzia
  • Dental services
  • Ophthalmology
  • Kidney diseases including renal dialysis
  • General surgery
  • Nutrition advice and management
  • End-of-life care
  • Mental health issues
  • Rehabilitation and physiotherapy.

We encourage local communities to respond to health issues, to increase their capacity to care, change and develop healthy communities.

COVID-19 Response

Currently, the world is facing a global health crisis unlike any other. Before the pandemic, major progress was being seen in improving the health of millions of people. Significant strides were being made in increasing life expectancy and reducing some of the common killers associated with child and maternal mortality.14

The medical staff of the more than 200 Salvation Army-run general hospitals and clinics now find themselves on the front line of the battle against COVID-19. Many clinics have had to set up triage tents to allow potential coronavirus patients to be identified immediately, while others such as Howard Hospital in Zimbabwe are currently only taking emergency patients. The Salvation Army’s Evangeline Booth Hospital in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, India has been asked by the authorities to be the central facility of the area for receiving all COVID-19 patients. The hospital has designated 30 single rooms, which have been refurbished in readiness to receive coronavirus patients, but many other beds have been made available if this area becomes full. 

Hygiene supplies and health education are also being provided, In New York City, USA, The Salvation Army is partnering with other agencies to provide two of the three publicly-available free showering facilities in the metropolitan area, and in Korea, global healthcare leaders Johnson & Johnson have collaborated with The Salvation Army to distribute 20,000 face masks and 4,000 emergency relief kits to vulnerable individuals and medical professionals. Each emergency relief kit includes five KF94 masks, disinfection tissues, hand sanitiser, and quantities of the company’s Neutrogena hand cream, Listerine mouthwash and Aveeno body wash.

Our Commitment

“In the next five years my dream is that all women around the world will be able to receive care throughout pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum from a skilled birth attendant who has access to the tools they need to be able to provide high-quality care, and that as a result maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality will be reduced. 

The Salvation Army, through International Health Services, will do all it can to make this dream become a reality in its health facilities by continuing to provide technical support, in-service training and other resources where needed.”


Major Joan Gibson, International Health Services Coordinator