Three-fourths of districts are off target for crucial SDG indicators like access to basic services, poverty, stunting and wasting of children, anaemia, child marriage, partner violence, tobacco use, and modern contraceptive use
India is not on target for over 50 per cent of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators related to health and social determinants of health seven years before the 2030 deadline, according to a study published in The Lancet journal.
An international team of researchers found that over 75 per cent Indian districts are off target for crucial SDG indicators like access to basic services, poverty, stunting and wasting of children, anaemia, child marriage, partner violence, tobacco use, and modern contraceptive use.
For these indicators, more than 75 per cent of the districts were off-target. These districts are concentrated in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, and Odisha.
"India is not on target for 19 of the 33 SDGs indicators ... Because of a worsening trend observed between 2016 and 2021, and assuming no course correction occurs, many districts will never meet the targets on the SDGs even well after 2030," the authors of the study noted.
"Developing a strategic roadmap at this time will help India ensure success with regards to meeting the SDGs," they said.
India's emergence and sustenance as a leading economic power depends on meeting some of the more basic health and social determinants of health-related SDGs in an immediate and equitable manner, the authors said.
The study provides the first systematic midline assessment of the progress that 707 Indian districts out of 763 have made to achieve the SDGs related to health and social determinants of health.
The assessment suggests an urgent need to increase the pace and momentum on four SDG goals: No poverty (SDG 1), zero hunger (SDG 2), good health and well-being (SDG 3) and gender equality (SDG 5).
The researchers, from Harvard University, US, Laxmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute in New Delhi, Graduate School of Korea University, and Institute of Economic Growth, New Delhi, pointed out some positives as well. India is on-target to meet 13 out of the 33 indicators.
These are internet use, bank account for women, full vaccination, improved sanitation, reduction in multi-dimensional poverty, birth registration, skilled birth attendants, electricity access, tobacco use reduction among women, lowering of child marriage among less than 15-year-old girls, under-five mortality, teenage sexual violence and neonatal mortality.
Among the 19 off-target indicators, the conditions have worsened for three related to anaemia because of an increase in the prevalence of anaemia among pregnant and non-pregnant women between 2016 and 2021.
The authors believe that India would never be able to meet the SDGS targets related to anaemia if this trend continues.
For the remaining 16 indicators that are off-target, the observed rate of change between 2016 and 2021, though in desirable direction, is insufficient to meet SDG targets by 2030, they said.
Assuming the observed rate of change, India will meet its targets on improved water by 2031, hand washing facility by 2033, clean fuel for cooking by 2035, teenage pregnancy in 2039, and partner violence (sexual) by 2040, according to the researchers.
Another 11 off-target indicators will be met between 2041 and 2162, including access to basic services in 2047 and partner violence (physical or sexual) in 2090, they added.