“U.N. Development Goals for better drinking water have already been reached, but a closer look shows that the measures fail to truly account for the lack of access to safe water,” Scientific American reports in a feature story. “[J]ust because water is pouring out of a spigot does not mean that it is safe to drink,” the article states, adding, “In poorer areas, where infrastructure and sanitation are often much worse, even sources of water that have been ‘improved’ are frequently at risk for contamination by human and animal feces, according to recent analyses.” The magazine details a number of studies on the issue and concludes, “[W]hether there are 800 million or 1.8 billion people who lack safe water, the scourge of preventable deadly diarrheal and other waterborne diseases will continue to plague too many” (Harmon, 5/21).
“Progress towards achieving Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] remains a challenge for Pakistan,” AlertNet reports, writing, “There is a need to accelerate the efforts to achieve the desired results by 2015.” The news service provides statistics regarding the country’s progress toward some of these goals and writes, “This calls for the federal and provincial governments to take appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures to save these precious lives.” The news service adds, “Furthermore, the federal and provincial governments should prioritize policies and programs on nutrition, vaccination, and health workers and make sufficient budgetary allocations” (Arshad, 5/24).
The Millennium Villages Project (MVP), established in Africa to determine what improvements can be made when programs addressing health, education, agriculture, and other development needs are implemented simultaneously, published its first results in the Lancet on Tuesday. The following opinion piece and editorial address the findings.
As MDGs Set To Expire In 2015, U.N. Panel To Advise On Approaches To Development; African Progress Panel Calls For 'Big Push' On Continent
“The presidents of Indonesia and Liberia — Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — and the prime minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, are to co-chair a U.N. panel to advise on approaches to development after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015,” SciDev.Net reports. “Announcing the chairs to the U.N. General Assembly [on Wednesday], Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary general, also said he would appoint an assistant secretary-general for post-2015 development planning,” the news service writes, adding, “The panel will consider the mixed success of the eight MDGs, which were set in 2000 and provide targets for reducing poverty and promoting social development through such areas as education, reduction of HIV infection rates and infant mortality” (Irwin, 5/12).
The Nation Examines Whether Nigeria Will Be Able To Attain MDGs Related To Maternal, Infant Mortality
Nigeria’s “The Nation” examines whether, with three years until the deadline for attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the country will be able to meet the targets of reducing maternal and infant mortality by one-third as set by the U.N. The newspaper provides statistics from UNICEF regarding maternal and infant mortality in the country and quotes a number of health experts, including Edamisan Temiye, chair of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Lagos State Branch, who “said with the rate Nigeria is going, it may not realize its target of one-third reduction of maternal and infant deaths by 2015.” According to the newspaper, Temiye cites a “virtually failed” immunization program, a high poverty level, and limited access to education, water, and housing as contributing factors to Nigeria’s maternal and infant mortality rates (Adepoju, 1/10).
“An infant’s first moments and the twenty-eight days that follow are the most precarious, and her risk of death is never higher,” but “[s]imple and inexpensive techniques, … such as drying her, clearing her airway, keeping her warm or using a simple ventilation device to stimulate her breathing, can help,” and frontline health workers “deliver these lifesaving techniques,” Sharon D’Agostino, vice president of worldwide corporate contributions and community relations for Johnson & Johnson, and Winifred Mwebesa of Save the Children write in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. They discuss the “Helping Babies Breathe” education initiative that trains health workers on skills such as resuscitation. The authors continue, “Frontline health workers are our global health heroes but, according to World Health Organization, we do not have nearly enough of them, especially in Africa, where there may be fewer than two trained doctors for every 1,000 people.”
Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, writes in a Huffington Post opinion piece, “My top priority for 2012 will be to make a renewed push towards [achieving the first millennium development goal of halving the proportion of people living in hunger and extreme poverty by 2015], but also to look beyond it, to the final, total eradication of hunger from this planet. Obviously, it is not something that FAO can do alone. It needs a new international mobilization, the support of decision-makers everywhere, and a concerted effort by the entire U.N. family and other development partners.”
After visiting Ghana on a recent tour to examine poverty reduction strategies and progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and “one of the world’s most prominent development economists, says Ghana is proving to be one of the strongest performers on the [MDGs] in Africa and unlike some of its African counterparts is likely to fulfill them by the 2015 deadline,” the Christian Science Monitor reports. Ghana “has been investing for a long time in health and education, gender and equality, and it has made a lot of progress. But there are parts of Ghana that are extremely poor and really need a lot of accelerated investments,” Sachs told the Christian Science Monitor during an interview in Accra, according to the news service.
In tandem with Africa Water Week, the African Minister’s Council on Water (AMCOW) Summit kicked off in Johannesburg, South Africa, Monday, where discussions will center on ways to increase the water supply in Africa, Bua News/allAfrica.com reports (11/9).
“A declaration to be made at next week’s world food summit in Rome will not mention a target to eradicate hunger by 2025 nor a commitment to spend $44 billion a year in agricultural aid, according to a final draft,” Reuters reports (Aloisi, 11/12).