China is making good progress in meeting global health goals but still faces challenges, according to a new study

A new study published in The Lancet shows good progress has been made around the world in achieving some of the UN agreed global health goals, including reducing childhood mortality, providing family planning and the rollout of universal healthcare.

But it reveals there have only been minimal improvement in hepatitis B rates whilst the numbers of overweight children, levels of domestic violence and alcohol consumption have risen.
China was ranked 92nd out of 188 countries, with challenges related to HIV, Hep B and tuberculosis rates, particulate matter pollution and smoking prevalence. But it performed better for its level of universal health coverage and access to skilled birthcare facilities.

The study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation measured how countries, including China, America, the UK and Australia performed over the last 15 years, with Iceland taking the top spot for its health related Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) performance.

The UK came in at fifth spot, Australia at 10th, the US at 28th, Taiwan at 32nd and China at 92.

The SDGs are 17 universal goals, 169 targets, and 230 indicators set by the United Nations in 2015 to guide a range of pressing problems including food and water security, poverty, and climate change up to 2030. The SDGs are an offshoot of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were launched in 2000 with a target year of 2015.   Health is at the core of the SDG with the third SDG aiming to “ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.”

The data focused on 33 health-related indicators to measure progress and created a SDG index with a rating from 0-100. China scored 60, whilst top place Iceland was awarded a rating of 85.
Professor Stephen Lim from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington led the research with the help of 1870 collaborators in 124 countries including Professor Bruce Neal and Professor Vivek Jha from The George Institute.

Professor Bruce Neal said: “It is heartening to see that China scored so well in many of these goals but there are areas that can definitely be improved.

"The gaps have been highlighted, now it’s time for governments, policy makers and health professionals to work on meeting the 2030 targets.”

Professor Craig Anderson, executive director of The George Institute, China said: “It is exciting to see that China is making strong gains in meeting the wide ranging demands of its population which is facing the double burdens of communicable and non-communicable diseases within an increasing urbanized environment".

The George Institute for Global Health is a strong supporter and advocate of these Global Goals. Goal Three “Good health and wellbeing: ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages" aligns very closely with our mission to “improve the health of millions of people worldwide”. At the same time much of our work also upholds Goal Five “Gender equality”, Goal 10 "Reduced inequalities” plus many others.

The study was launched at a special event at the UN General Assembly in New York.