As mentioned in my previous column, the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organizations (WHO) have renewed their commitment to improve the health of communities, countries, and the world by identifying 17 new health-related goals for the next 15 years, calling them Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).1
SDG goal #3 is devoted to “Ensure healthy lives and
promote well-being for all at all ages,” and one of its three
top priorities is to “reduce by one third premature mortality
from non-communicable diseases [NCD] through prevention
and treatment, by 2030.”2 According to a WHO report,
63% of global deaths in 2008 were due to NCDs—especially
cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, and chronic respiratory
diseases—and as the years pass by, deaths from
NCD continue to rise worldwide affecting both high and low
NCDs are the most frequent causes of
death in most countries, except in Africa, but even in African
nations, deaths from NCDs are rising fast and “are expected
to exceed communicable, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional
diseases as the most common causes of death by 2030.”4
The good news is that a large percentage of NCDs are
preventable through the reduction of four main health behaviors:
tobacco use, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol,
and unhealthy diet.
What does this have to do with mission and how can
we make a positive impact for Christ in our community? Because
many of these SDGs refer to key global health issues,
we can use Christ’s method found in the book Ministry of
Healing (p. 143), and help meet these needs. This is one of
the relevant ways each elder can participate in the effort to
Reach the World with a message of hope.
So, how to do this? First, by our example. Choosing
healthy behaviors that may reduce premature death in our
own lives will benefit not only us, but motivate others to
do the same. We can become more intentionally involved,
for instance, by increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables
and whole grains daily or by prioritizing physical activity and
tracking it daily through fun programs such as InStep for
Secondly, we can promote these health behaviors in innovative
and positive ways among all age groups using the
many resources available through Comprehensive Health
Ministry resources. We will feature some of these resources
as they relate to the top NCDs in the next issues.
As we answer the call for Total Member Involvement in
our mission, our example and our efforts to reach others are
important. The inspired counsel we have received reminds
us, “Let them find out what constitutes true health reform
and teach its principles, both by precept and by a quiet, consistent
May God be glorified as we consider ways we can
become more intentionally involved in sharing His love by
meeting the health needs of individuals, families, and communities
around us, remembering that whether we eat or
drink or whatever we do, it should be all to the glory of God
(1 Cor. 10:31).
1 World Health Organization. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/meetings/2015/un-sustainable-development-summit/en/. Or https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/.
EGW, Counsels on Health, 334.
Katia Reinert is associate director of the Health
Ministries Department for the General Conference.