I underwent breast surgery last Monday and, as a mother of four, aged 12 to 2, I was terrified. Terrified not to be able to make it, terrified to be left with terrible injuries, terrified of being left with a disability. This terror was because I live in one of the poorest countries of the world, Madagascar. Healthcare is not a priority here. I was maybe supposing that the surgeon and his team would not be as skilled as expected, or that we will have a power cut during the intervention (which is so frequent here), or that we will lack drugs and treatment after the surgery, or whatever challenges linked to a poor health sector.
But everything went well, and here I am to testify it.
I feel shameful for all these fears and feel grateful for the miracle of being alive. I had the chance to be in a private hospital. An old hospital where everyone is full of respect for the patients and where old machines are being maintained alive. Nonetheless, I feel lucky because I could afford the surgery and the treatment. I feel privileged to have a job even if I don’t have medical insurance, to pay for my healthcare. This is not the case for everyone and I bet this health scarcity also strikes elsewhere in the world. Every day, I hear a lot of horrible stories of mothers, who couldn’t give birth to their children safely. It was because they were located far from a medical center. I also hear stories of death, because they had no money at all.
In Madagascar, the ratio of physician to patient is one for thousands of people (if you are lucky).
In rural areas, you have to walk twenty kilometers (sometimes more) to reach the nearest health center. Here, a nurse, deprived of medical supplies and drugs will wait for you. You can lose your life for a small injury that can be treated in 10 minutes in developed countries. This is not fair, and I’m deeply introspecting about it while recovering from my wounds, in my privileged scarcity.
Then I remembered I had to write an article for the World Moms Network. I couldn’t do so in time, because of the above-mentioned reason. September 15th was International Democracy Day and I wanted to write about it. I also wanted to write about peace as September 21st was the International Day of Peace. But there won’t be any peace in the world as long as some men and women, of all ages, cannot afford decent healthcare. I feel that democracy is unreachable if you don’t have healthy bodies and minds able to claim for more justice, more accountability, and transparency. These big words will remain illusions if we don’t take care of the human part of the story first.
Therefore, I would like to dedicate this post to SDG #3.
To ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages is at the core of any struggle. I’m not only pledging for my country where only less than 15% of the national budget is dedicated to healthcare, even during the pandemic. I would love to see a worldwide move towards better healthcare for all. Let us build a world where we take care of everyone, no matter his/her age, origin, or finances. Among others, this dream implies providing access to medicines and vaccines for all. It means supporting the R&D of vaccines and medicines for all; increasing health financing and health workforce in developing countries. It needs political will and commitment and it needs the support of all stakeholders, at all levels.
But SDGs are also dependent on one another. And the attainment of SDG #3 also requests the achievement of all the 16 other ones. Abolish gender discrimination; Improve the skills of health workers – and this means, equal access to education for all and provide energy for hospitals to function properly. Make the 2030 agenda a top priority everywhere in the world and achieve it by all means. I’m surely not the one who thought of this in the first place. I don’t have any pretension to being the one who will unlock hearts and minds for better progress regarding SDGs. My personal situation is nothing compared to the world suffering, from wars, starvation, and all kinds of injustice. I’m just a worried mother who took conscience of the scarcity of life and who is wishing for the better.
Kudos to all health workers around the world; thank you for your commitment and dedication to serving humanity.
Kudos to all moms (and everyone) who are struggling somewhere. Hope lies in our hands, we all can act for things to improve. Heads up soldiers of good!
Which SDG are you passionate about and why?
This is an original post for World Moms Network by our contributor in Madagascar, Ketakandriana Rafitoson.
Image credits: The Author and the #UNSDG website (used digitally based on their guidelines).
In 2015, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Agenda includes 17 goal, known as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), which are an urgent call to action by all people from all nations for the betterment of humanity and the planet.
The United Nations General Assembly (#UNGA) meeting is happening in New York City this week (September 21-27, 2021). In recognition of UNGA, some of our World Moms chimed in about which SDG resonates most with them and why.
What SDG Means the Most to You and Why?
Tes in The US says: I believe that all the SDGs are important but for me, SDG#5-Gender Equality, is what I am passionate about. Being Filipino but raised here in the United States, I have witnessed a country with its share of inequality. While inequality does exist for girls and women in jobs and education, I am grateful and lucky to be able to fight against it and advocate for girls and women through the opportunities presented to me on a daily basis.
Nitsana in Israel says: I remember how impressed and excited I was about seeing the list of SDGs. You can’t fix something if you don’t have a goal. A goal is the first step for having a plan, and with a plan, everything is possible. I love them all but I think the ones that touch me most deeply are ending poverty and hunger. There are several reasons I see these as the most basic and important. First, it should be our primary goal to make sure every human is cared for in the most basic sense, that he/she can live a life of dignity. I want to live in a world where everyone is cared for. Also, once the population of the world is out of “survival mode,” anything is possible. It says something about us as humans that we make sure to care for others; that we set up systems where everyone can thrive. I have a lot to say about each of the goals but these, to me, are the first step.
Piya in India says: While all the SDGs are very important, my heart beats for SDG#5, Gender equality! As Director of VESLARC, I am privileged to be working in the domain of gender sensitization. We put an emphasis on mutual respect for several thousand students of the various schools and colleges of Vivekanand Education Society, in Mumbai, India. It’s a sad yet undeniable truth that there are major disparities, when it comes to opportunities for education, job openings, career progression, and pay scales, between men and women. SDG 5 is not only for empowering our girls and women. The “hidden” fact is that a culture that is strongly patriarchal is also “bad news” for its men. Peer pressure and the need to conform to stereotypes can diminish the sense of identity of our boys. We need to join hands to empower every young child—irrespective of gender or gender orientation—about their tremendous potential and help them shake free of limiting labels!
Kyla in Portugal says: For me, the two most important SDGs are Gender Equality and Quality Education, which, to me, go hand-in-hand. The saying goes: “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach the man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” I think the saying should say: “Give a woman a fish, you’ll feed her family for a day. Teach a woman to fish, you’ll feed a whole community.” I have long been an advocate for Girl Power and Women Empowerment. The path to achieving these is through education.
Simona in Spain says: The most important goal for me is Good Health and Wellbeing. My grandfather was a doctor. He used to say, “health is the 1 that gives value to all the 0s of life.” By that he meant that if (for example) you are rich but don’t have your health, you have 0, but if you are healthy and wealthy, you have 10. Nothing is worth anything if you are not healthy enough to use it or enjoy it. It also upsets me terribly that very often life-saving procedures or medicines are simply unaffordable to the vast majority of people. As someone who lives with medical issues which require me to take chronic medicines, I am painfully aware of this cost. I am one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to choose between necessary medicine and food but for many, that is the monthly struggle. People shouldn’t have to remortgage their homes in order to be able to pay for the necessary procedures and / or medicines and / or mobility aids they need.
Jen in The US says: It is difficult to pick just one, so I’m picking two of my favorite SDGs! #4 the right to a universal education and #5 women and girl empowerment. My ancestors who were immigrants wanted an education, but they couldn’t afford it. As for me, I wanted to study abroad, but couldn’t afford it during college. I think education shouldn’t just be for those who can afford it. Otherwise, the world misses out on so many incredible minds and ideas to move us forward! Also, education serves as a step out of poverty for so many around the globe, which makes it so important. And until women and girls are treated equally, I’ll be fighting!!
Purnima in India says: I think all of the SDGs are important. I cannot say that I love SDG #5 more because I am passionate about Gender Equality and want to see the well-being of my sisters across the world, rather than SDG #1 which is ‘No Poverty’. How can we achieve SDG #3, which is Good Health and Well Being, if we do not also achieve #1 and #2? So I think ALL of these SDGs are very important and feel for all of them equally. If we do not have peace in our hearts, and if we do not come together and make friendships and relationships and partnerships (SDG #16 and SDG #17), how can we solve SDG#1 through #5, or for that matter, any of the SDGs?! My personal SDG journey began at World Moms Network. When I started out, my contribution to WMN was just a hobby. Over the years, this sisterhood has given me serious life-goals. This is why I cannot pick just one.
Tell us what United Nations Sustainable Development Goal is most important to YOU. World Moms want to know.
This is a collaborative post for World Moms Networkfrom our global network of contributors. The images used in this post come directly from the #UNSDG website and are used digitally based on their guidelines.
World Moms Network is an award winning website whose mission statement is "Connecting mothers; empowering women around the globe." With over 70 contributors who write from over 30 countries, the site covered the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good.
Most recently, our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan was awarded "Best Reporting on the UN" form the UNCA. The site has also been named a "Top Website for Women" by FORBES Woman and recommended by the NY Times Motherlode and the Times of India. Follow our hashtags: #worldmom and #worldmoms
Formerly, our site was known as World Moms Blog.