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.”
MDGs/Post-2015 MDG Agenda
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).
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.”
Reaching the Millennium Development Goal of “[r]educing by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015” likely will be reached, “but large numbers of people in the world’s least developed regions will still not benefit,” according to a report (.pdf) released Tuesday by UNICEF and the WHO, the U.N. News Centre reports (12/20). The report “found that between 1990 and 2008, the proportion of the world’s population with access to improved drinking water sources increased from 77 percent to 87 percent,” which means 1.8 billion more people have drinking water access, according to Medical Daily (Daley, 12/20).
“Women, girls and HIV were the focus of a panel discussion on the final day of the International Forum on [Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6] in Eastern Europe and Central Asia,” UNAIDS reports. “In Russia, HIV prevalence among young women aged 15-24 is two times higher than among men of the same age, according to government figures,” UNAIDS notes, adding women’s health advocates in Russia say, “Stigma and discrimination â€¦ continue to hamper access to HIV services” (10/13).
PRI’s “The World” highlights the state of mental health care in Uganda in an examination of how the exclusion of mental health from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has, according to some advocates, held back mental health as a global health issue. Julius Kayiira, director of Mental Health Uganda, an organization that provides social support, job training and care to people with mental illness, “says organizations like his face an enormous funding gap, and he blames that gap, in part, on the United Nations,” according to “The World.”
Three recent reports — a one-year assessment released by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) of the WHO on Tuesday, an analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington published on Tuesday in the Lancet, and a Save the Children report released on Monday entitled “No Child out of Reach” — examine the progress of the global campaign to save mothers and children under five in developing nations and evaluate whether Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5, reducing child mortality by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015 and maternal deaths by three-quarters over the same period, can be met.
Inter Press Service examines what some experts are calling a lack of commitment from health care workers, which they say is “among the reasons why Africa may not succeed in achieving Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 on improving maternal health by 2015 by reducing maternal mortality by three quarters.” According to IPS, “Studies conducted by the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) in East, West and Southern Africa found that most countries are struggling to provide universal access to reproductive health.”
IRIN examines access to water and sanitation in Zambia, where “only 58 percent of Zambians have access to adequate sanitation and 13 percent lack any kind of toilet,” according to a 2008 study by the local non-governmental organization Water and Sanitation Forum.