Leaving no one behind: a methodology for setting health inequality reduction targets for Sustainable Development Goal 3*

Sanhueza et al.


To present a methodology for the simultaneous setting of quantitative targets that reflect both an improvement in the national average of an indicator for Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG3), as well as a reduction in its geographic inequality.


A five-step algorithm was developed: (a) calculate the national average annual percent change (AAPC) for an SDG3 indicator; (b) normatively define geographic strata from the subnational distribution of the indicator in a baseline year; (c) apply a proportional progressivity criterion to the AAPC to project the stratum-specific indicator value for the target year; (d) set the national target as the weighted average of the indicator in the subnational territorial units for the target year; and (e) set the inequality reduction targets by calculating the absolute and relative gaps between the bottom and top strata for the target year.


The algorithm was applied to SDG indicator 3.1.1 (maternal mortality ratio, MMR), disaggregated by Guatemala’s 22 departments at the baseline year 2014 (MMR = 113 per 100,000 live births). By sustaining the AAPC rate attained from 2009 to 2014 (-4.3%) and focalizing its actions with territorial progressivity, by 2030 the country could reduce its MMR to 53 per 100,000 and its absolute and relative inequality gaps by 72% and 48%, respectively.


The proposed methodology allows for simultaneously setting targets for overall progress and inequality reduction in health, making explicit the primacy of the equity principle contained in the SDG commitment to leave no one behind, whose urgency takes on renewed relevance in the current pandemic scenario.

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Original research