The Public Health Nursing Series is a 20-blog collection, written by William (Billy) Rosa, author of the forthcoming title, Nurses as Leaders: Evolutionary Visions of Leadership (June 2016), that sparks a dialogue about each and every nurse's role in advancing and creating the future of global health. With a focus on cultural considerations and the current status of healthcare in nations worldwide, nurses will learn how they are called to contribute to each of the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals, an international initiative that seeks to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all over the next 15 years.This series makes the case that every nurse, regardless of title, position, or credential, is a public health leader.

Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being (Part 6)

Creating environments of health and well-being is a core responsibility of the nursing profession; a fundamental value rooted in the procurement of human dignity and the protection of human rights. An ongoing commitment to advocacy, social justice, and beneficence make Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #3 both a nursing prerogative and priority. Public health nurses are at the forefront of this goal, helping to translate the ethic and ethos of human caring to communities and vulnerable populations at large in a way that transforms access to care and provides new opportunities for improved well-being.

SDG #3 strives, “to ensure health and well-being for all, including a bold commitment to end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other communicable diseases by 2030… achieve universal health coverage, and provide access to safe and effective medicines and vaccines for all” (United Nations Development Programme [UNDP], 2016). Public health nurses play a key role in leading research that will contribute to the lessened burden of communicable diseases, guiding policy changes that increase health care coverage for all members of society, and educate the public about the need for medication safety and vaccine scheduling. According to the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform (2016), some of the additional goal 3 targets include a commitment to the following by 2030:

  • Reduce global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births
  • End preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age
  • Promote mental health and well-being
  • Reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases
  • Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse
  • Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services
  • Strengthen the capacity of all countries to effectively manage national and global health risks.

Each country will continue to encounter both unique and shared challenges throughout the SDG implementation processes. For example, Bangladesh faces a lack of financial and non-financial resources, institutional mechanisms for implementation, and nationwide participation and accountability (Bhattacharya, 2015). Pakistan, on the other hand, will need to focus on integrating the global agenda into the national policies, strengthen partnerships between federal and provincial authorities, and build the capacities of local governments to deliver enhanced services (LEAD Pakistan, 2015). And India, like many low-income countries, faces the difficulties of nurse migration, poor rural road infrastructure, and insufficient salaries for nurses, particularly those working outside of major urban areas (Manjrekar, 2016).

Public health nurses must continue to build partnerships with governments, NGOs, donors, and civil societies that lead to collaborative solutions and benefit all involved (Sliney, 2015). In this way, the outcomes and long-term efforts are representative of stakeholders’ values and contributions. The health and well-being of any nation depends upon the strength of these partnerships and the willingness of participants to share accountability and refine programs based on evolving needs.

One such partnership is the Human Resources for Health (HRH) Program in Rwanda; a consortium of United States medical centers and nursing, public health, and dentistry schools that seek to collaborate with Rwandan Ministry of Health (MOH) affiliates to improve educational preparation for health care workers, increase the total number of physicians, nurses, clinical specialists, health managers, and oral health professionals across the country, and decrease future dependence on foreign aid (Binagwaho et al., 2013; Republic of Rwanda, MOH, n.d.). HRH seeks to build seamless communication and partnership between governmental and Rwandan regulatory bodies in education and health care, United States institutions of learning, major donors, such as the Clinton Health Access Initiative, and between clinicians and educators in Rwandan health care facilities and national universities. HRH, through collaboration and the interface of multiparty endeavors, is committed to ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all Rwandans in a way that is meaningful and useful to their nation.

In the cross-cultural context, it is important that the public health nurse takes the time to understand what “health” means to the client and what treatment plan is most appropriate for them and their family/community. “Well-being” is not only determined by personal factors of health and the client’s sense of purpose in life, but also by the quality of relationships, power of community, and the environment in which they work and live (Kreitzer & Koithan, 2014). Public health nurses are in the privileged position to translate the caring ethic of the profession to individuals, populations, and countries working to implement SDG #3 so that all human beings may live healthy lives and have an improved experience of well-being.


Bhattacharya, D. (2015). The agenda of Sustainable Development Goals: Implementation challenges for Bangladesh. Retrieved from

Binagwaho, A., Kyamanywa, P., Farmer, P.E., Nuthulaganti, T., Umubyeyi, B., Nyemazi, J.P., . . . Goosby, E. (2013). Human Resources for Health Program in Rwanda: A new partnership. New England Journal of Medicine, 369(21), 2054-2059.

Kreitzer, M.J. & Koithan, M. (Eds.). (2014). Integrative nursing. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

LEAD Pakistan. (2015). Translating Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the national level. Retrieved from

Policy%20Note%20%20Translating%20Sustainable%20Development%20Goals%20(SD         Gs)%20at%20the%20National%20Level.pdf

Manjrekar, P. (2016). Resourceful and unified: Partnering across cultures and worldviews. In W. Rosa (Ed.), Nurses as leaders: Evolutionary visions of leadership. New York, NY: Springer, in press.

Republic of Rwanda, Ministry of Health. (n.d.). Human Resources for Health Program, Republic of Rwanda: Program overview. Retrieved from

Sliney, A. (2015). Global health partnerships. In S. Breakey, I.B. Corless, N.L. Meedzan, & P.K. Nicholas (Eds.), Global health nursing in the 21st century (pp. 103-111). New York, NY: Springer.

Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform. (2016). Goal 3: Ensure health lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. Retrieved from

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). (2016). Goal 3: Good health and well-being. Retrieved from            development-agenda/goal-3.html

More About the Author

William (Billy) Rosa, MS, RN, LMT, AHN-BC, AGPCNP-BC, CCRN-CMC, is currently Visiting Faculty, University of Rwanda and ICU Clinical Educator, Rwanda Military Hospital, Human Resources for Health Program in partnership with the New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing. He currently has over 65 publications for refereed and non-refereed journals, newspapers, magazines, and national platform blogs and his book, Nurses as Leaders: Evolutionary Visions of Leadership, will be released by Springer in June 2016. Billy currently sits on the US Advisory Board for the Nightingale Initiative for Global Health, and most recently received the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses' 2015 National Circle of Excellence Award and the Association for Nursing Professional Development's 2015 National Change Agent/Team Member Award.

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Part 1 -  Understanding the Nurse as a Public Health Leader

Part 7 - Sustainable Development Goal #4 - Quality Education