Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

The healthcare sector is not frequently mentioned in conjunction with MSMEs. Nevertheless, a survey conducted by the AXA Group and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) found 9 per cent of the 1,104 MSMEs surveyed were involved in the healthcare sector.27 MSMEs can provide better-quality healthcare services and a wide range of basic laboratory and imaging services.28 Further, MSMEs are progressively taking the leading role as innovators of low-cost, high-volume delivery models, driven by increased competition for the same customer base. However, MSMEs are facing multiple challenges, such as the lack of strict regulatory standards and the lack of resources to hire professionals with skills to manage the operational inefficiencies.29

To achieve SDG 3, MSMEs can contribute to areas such as low-cost surgery, better disease management, telehealth, remote patient monitoring, records management and healthcare training. MSMEs already play a key role in these areas. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that achieving the SDG health targets would require new investments increasing over time from an initial US $134 billion annually to $371 billion, or $58 per person, by 2030 under the ‘ambitious scenario’ and new investments increasing from an initial US $104 billion a year to $274 billion, or $41 per person, by 2030 under the ‘progress scenario’.30

Policy measures to support Goal 3:

  • Informality of a business can mean that employees or owners do not have access to certain health care or social security benefits, and as such, formalizing MSMEs can play a role in improving health outcomes.
  • Healthcare can be an area where regulation of service provision is very complex. Streamlining the administrative and regulatory burden on healthcare service providers could enable the participation of more MSMEs.
  • To mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, work-from-home measures have been enacted by many countries. Governments may look to guide MSMEs in instituting practices that enable their MSMEs to effectively remain working while staff stay home, or use hybrid models.

27 Blue Orchard Academy (2017). SMEs and SDGs: Supporting Small and Medium Enterprises to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – Insights from a Blue Orchard Survey.

28 Private Sector & Development (PS&D) (2018). Does the Private Sector Help Improve Healthcare Systems in Developing Countries? Private Sector & Development (PS&D) Magazine. Agence Française de Développement.

29 Ibid.

30 WHO (2017). Online Q&A: Sustainable Development Goals Health Price Tag.