Noting “[w]e are just three years away from the target date for achieving the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed by all … U.N. member states back in 2000 to eradicate global poverty,” Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in this Independent opinion piece reflects “on the critical role of health in and beyond the Millennium Development Goals” ahead of the second meeting of the U.N. Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on the future strategy to fight global poverty, set to take place in London on Wednesday. Piot writes that the MDGs have “given local and global focus to efforts to tackle the big issues,” while inspiring action, innovation, and new financing models, but he notes “there is still so much more we need to do.”
MDGs/Post-2015 MDG Agenda
Noting the 67th session of the U.N. General Assembly begins on September 25, Charles Kenny, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and a Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation, writes in his Bloomberg Businessweek blog, “Small World,” “Accompanying the usual podium speeches will be the start of backroom discussions as to what will replace the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs], a set of targets for global progress agreed to at the 2000 General Assembly meetings.” He continues, “The original Millennium Goals committed the world to halve poverty between 1990 and 2015, alongside ambitious targets to reduce childhood deaths, ensure that every child worldwide completes primary school, safeguard equal access to education for girls, improve access to sanitation, and reduce deaths from maternal mortality, AIDS, and malaria,” and he adds, “The planet has actually done pretty well in meeting these initial targets.”
At a meeting on the sidelines of the 67th U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday in New York, the MDG Advocacy Group — which comprises representatives from the private sector, academia, governments and civil society — “urge[d] the international community to step up efforts for the final three years of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” the U.N. News Centre reports. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established the group in 2010 “to help him build political will and mobilize global action for the benefit of the poor and the most vulnerable,” according to the news service. At the meeting, Ban said, “This is no time to relax. 2015 is fast approaching. … We can and must continue to push as hard as we can to build on the momentum the goals have generated,” the news service notes (9/26).
The Guardian examines a new Millennium Villages Project (MVP) — “the integrated approach to rural development spearheaded by Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University’s Earth Institute” — that was launched last week in northern Uganda “by Ghana’s new president John Dramani Mahama and U.K. international development secretary Andrew Mitchell.” According to the newspaper, “Like the 13 other MVP sites … the project will attempt to provide a package of proven, science-based interventions for agriculture, education, health and rural infrastructure.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday “urged a stronger global partnership to advance progress on the development targets world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015, as a new United Nations report finds that significant gains risk slowing due to declining aid,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed on by world leaders at a U.N. summit in 2000, set specific targets on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS reduction, and a ‘Global Partnership for Development,'” the news service notes (9/20). According to the 2012 MDG Gap Task Force Report (.pdf), official development assistance (ODA) from the 23 primary donors in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development dropped by almost three percent (in real terms) in 2011 after reaching a peak in 2010, Agence France-Presse notes. “To reach the U.N. target of 0.7 percent of gross national income devoted to aid, the world’s richest nations should be spending more than $300 billion,” the news service writes (9/20).
In this post in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog, Johanna Ralston, chief executive of the World Heart Federation, and Ann Keeling, chief executive of the International Diabetes Federation, argue non-communicable diseases (NCDs) must be part of any new global development goals, writing, “NCDs and their risk factors worsen poverty, while poverty contributes to rising rates of NCDs, posing a threat to sustainable development.” They continue, “In 2000, world leaders drafting the millennium development goals (MDGs) addressed many of the great development challenges, but they made one serious mistake: they omitted any mention of NCDs, which together cause nearly two out of three deaths in the world (80 percent of those in developing countries).”
“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.
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).