Al Jazeera examines maternal mortality worldwide, saying, “If the situation continues at its current rate, the world will not meet” the U.N. Millennium Development Goal “to reduce maternal mortality by 75 percent between 1990 and 2015.” Though the estimated number of women who die of maternal mortality has dropped from 546,000 in 1990 to 340,000 today, a woman’s lifetime risk of dying during or following pregnancy in developing countries “is still high at one in 31,” compared with one in 4,300 in developed countries, the news agency reports. “Attaining zero maternal death would require greater community involvement and commitment” and increased access to contraceptives and skilled birth attendants, according to experts, Al Jazeera notes (Arjunpuri, 3/19).
“South Asian nations are making the least progress in the Asia-Pacific region on meeting key development goals, which they pledged to achieve by 2015,” Bindu Lohani, vice president for sustainable development at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), said on Friday at the launch of a U.N. progress report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Reuters reports (Bhalla, 2/19). The Asia-Pacific region already has reached the MDG of halving the incidence of poverty, “but still has high levels of hunger as well as child and maternal mortality,” the report said, according to Asian Scientist (2/21).
In this SciDev.Net opinion piece, journalist Priya Shetty writes that the Sustainable Development Goals — a successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) proposed to begin in 2015 — “need more focus on health to continue the progress achieved with MDGs.” She continues, “[A]lthough early drafts of the SDGs address issues that the MDGs neglected, such as food security, they are light on health and many social issues (education, for example, or gender equity). This should be of major concern to public health experts.”
“This generation has a unique opportunity to eradicate extreme poverty, [U.K. Prime Minister] David Cameron said on Thursday as he outlined an agenda to follow the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire in 2015,” the Guardian reports. Cameron was speaking to reporters following the first substantive meeting of a high-level U.N. panel co-chaired by himself, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and tasked by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “to lay out a framework that will follow the MDGs,” the newspaper notes. The co-chairs “all emphasized the importance of listening to civil society, the private sector and young people, in an attempt to achieve the widest possible consensus for the follow-up to the MDGs,” the Guardian writes, adding, “The U.N. says a post-2015 framework will have at its core the continuing fight against poverty, climate change and sustainable development, while addressing inclusive growth, equality, peace and security, and human rights” (Tran, 11/1). “The panel will meet again in Monrovia and Jakarta next year” before providing a draft report to Ban, BBC News notes (Loyn, 11/1).
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).
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).