“Higher global food prices are hampering attempts to hit targets for food and nutrition,” and “rates of child and maternal mortality [a]re still ‘unacceptably high’ — partly as a result of surging commodity prices,” according to the Global Monitoring Report 2012, released by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday in Washington, D.C., the Guardian reports (Elliot, 4/20). The report says rising food prices have affected some countries’ ability to reach certain Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a World Bank/IMF press release notes.
MDGs/Post-2015 MDG Agenda
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has been asked by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to chair a “U.N. committee tasked with establishing a new set of U.N. millennium development goals [MDGs] to follow the present goals, which expire in 2015,” the Guardian reports. “The invitation, accepted by the prime minister, represents a political coup for Cameron, who has stuck to the government’s commitment to increase overseas aid to 0.7 percent of U.K. GDP, despite the recession,” the newspaper writes. The MDGs — which “range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015” — “decide the international targets of global aid channeled bilaterally and multilaterally through organizations such as the World Bank and the IMF,” the Guardian notes.
According to a study published in the Lancet on Saturday, researchers from the University of Pelotas in Brazil tracking progress toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5 — which promote maternal and child health — “discovered that the most equitable intervention was early initiation of breast feeding, and that the attendance of a skilled person at birth proved to be the least equitable intervention,” Medical News Today reports. “The findings furthermore revealed that community-based interventions were more equally distributed in comparison with those delivered in health facilities,” MNT writes, noting that the “most inequitable countries of the evaluated interventions were Chad, Ethiopia, Laos, Nigeria, Niger and Somalia, followed by India, Madagascar and Pakistan, with the most equitable countries being Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan” (Rattue, 4/2).
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).
The achievement of meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for safe drinking water “shows that where there is a will, it is possible to truly transform the lives of hundreds of millions of people for the better,” Sanjay Wijesekera, chief of water, sanitation and hygiene for UNICEF, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.” “Even in sub-Saharan Africa, where progress towards achieving the target is off-track, 273 million additional people gained access to drinking water since 1990,” he writes, adding, “So, we should raise our hats to the governments, organizations, communities and individuals who put great effort and resources into making this happen.”
“Developing countries have already achieved their 2015 [Millennium Development Goal (MDG)] of drastically reducing the number of people without regular access to improved drinking water, though much of the credit lies with India and China,” UNICEF and the WHO said in a joint report (.pdf) on Tuesday, Reuters reports (Charbonneau, 3/6). “According to the [WHO] and UNICEF joint monitoring program for water supply and sanitation (JMP), between 1990 and 2010 more than two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources, such as piped supplies and protected wells” and “at the end of 2010, 89 percent of the population — 6.1 billion people — now used improved drinking water sources, one percent more than the 88 percent target contained in [MDG] number seven, set in 2000,” the Guardian writes (Ford, 3/6).
“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.
“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.”
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.”