It would come as no surprise that good healthcare is also at the base of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Preserving life and to be cured of disease is probably at the top of things for which people would trade literally everything they own.

Even as travellers, the healthcare services at the destination, and the ability to have medical repatriation in case of emergencies, is usually a factor in our travel plans. Consequently, just like extreme poverty, it’s not often that travel brings you close to situations where people lack all health services – but occasionally I came close. Those times remind me of what I take for granted in terms of my healthcare safety net, and how little I could do with my life if I had to hedge that risk all by myself.

Instead, in travel it’s more likely for me to encounter examples for the more advanced priorities under Good Health & Well-being, such as mental health issues, and philosophies around well-being. Although those two experiences are usually not in the same community.

In general, this SDG is perhaps among the most successful of the 17, with the most progress in reducing mortality and disease. Instead, I think it is an example of an SDG that can’t progress further unless other SDGs also improve, such as more peace, better livelihoods that avoid the health consequences from stress, better food quality, less pollution etc., all of which would reduce the healthcare burden, rather than increase its cost.

Life and well-being is a core human desire. The fact that we would give up everything for it is why healthcare costs can exponentially rise when governed under a for-profit system. A country burdened by unsustainable healthcare costs or prevented from giving itself good health and well-being, will have little resources to spare to invest in any other sustainability goal.