Giving Compass' Take:

• Brookings Institute examines the inherent challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 3, focusing on global health, and argues that new technology will be needed to address them.

• What can nonprofits, private businesses and other organizations do to promote more innovation in the health sector? Are we funding bold ideas at the outset and embracing more risk?

• Here are five ways we can improve private investment in global health research and development.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 — ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all — is accompanied by a very ambitious set of targets. These include ending avertable child deaths and ending the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), malaria, and neglected tropical diseases by 2030. Are these achievable or can they be dismissed as just a “fairytale”?

Researchers have tried to answer this question using two complementary approaches. The first is to look at recent trends in death rates and then extrapolate these trends forward to 2030. The second is to model what would happen if today’s health interventions — such as medicines, vaccines, insecticidal bed nets, and diagnostics — were scaled up to very high coverage levels everywhere. In both cases, the results have been disturbing.

In an example of the first approach, McArthur, Rasmussen, and Yamey examined trends in child and maternal mortality over the most recent 10 years for which data were available and then extrapolated the 10-year trend to 2030. They found that 42 countries are not on track to reach both the child and maternal mortality targets in SDG3, and a further 37 countries will miss at least one of these. The Commission on Investing in Health (CIH), chaired by Larry Summers, used the second approach and found that the world would fall short of many SDG3 targets even if today’s health tools were scaled up to around 90-95 percent coverage worldwide.

The implication of these studies is clear. For many of the SDG3 targets, today’s tools are not enough — we will need tomorrow’s tools as well. While investing in the development and delivery of new health technologies is not the only way to accelerate progress, it may be the most effective.

Read the full article about why we need breakthrough technologies to reach SDG targets by Gavin Yamey and Alexander Gunn at Brookings.