“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.
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).
“Most African countries are lagging behind in achieving the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] and will not make as much progress in health, nutrition and sanitation as had hoped, U.N. officials said” on Thursday, the Associated Press/ABC News reports. “Education is one bright spot in the list of development targets. Many African countries are on track to having 90 percent of children in school, according to a July U.N. report,” the news service writes, adding, “But the continent is not on schedule to meet targets to eradicate hunger and poverty, reduce child mortality and improve maternal health, said the report.”
“India is lagging in its effort to reach United Nations goals to reduce poverty and improve health and sanitation, but has shown significant progress boosting education, treating AIDS and addressing environmental concerns,” Noeleen Heyzer, executive secretary of the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, said last week, the New York Times’ “India Ink” blog reports. According to an Asia Pacific Millennium Development Goal (MDG) report (.pdf) released last week, which “graded the progress of the eight millennium goals using 22 socio-economic indicators …, India has reached goals set in seven indicators out of 22 and is on track to achieve three others, but is lagging behind in 12,” the blog notes.
In this Global Health and Diplomacy opinion piece, Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete examines efforts to meet Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets on maternal and child mortality in Africa, noting, “Although Africa has just 12 percent of the global population, it accounts for half of all maternal deaths and half the deaths of children under five.” He writes, “Though global maternal deaths are in decline and women’s health has at last become a global priority, our goal of reducing maternal mortality by 75 percent in 2015 is still a long way off. … It is unacceptable to allow mothers and children to die when we have the knowledge and resources to save them.”
“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).
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.”