“Progress on maternal, newborn and child health, in the 75 highest-burden countries, most in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where more than 95 percent of all maternal and child deaths occur, has been laid out in a new 220-page report, ‘Building a Future for Women and Children,’ which is published by the Countdown to 2015 initiative,” a Countdown to 2015 press release reports. “Since 1990, annual maternal deaths have declined by almost one half and the deaths of young children have declined from 12 million to 7.6 million in 2010,” the press release states. It details a number of the key findings from the report and notes that the report’s release “coincides with a two-day [Child Survival Call to Action] forum to chart a course toward the end of preventable child deaths, taking place June 14-15 in Washington, D.C.” (6/13).
MDGs/Post-2015 MDG Agenda
“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).
“U.N. Development Goals for better drinking water have already been reached, but a closer look shows that the measures fail to truly account for the lack of access to safe water,” Scientific American reports in a feature story. “[J]ust because water is pouring out of a spigot does not mean that it is safe to drink,” the article states, adding, “In poorer areas, where infrastructure and sanitation are often much worse, even sources of water that have been ‘improved’ are frequently at risk for contamination by human and animal feces, according to recent analyses.” The magazine details a number of studies on the issue and concludes, “[W]hether there are 800 million or 1.8 billion people who lack safe water, the scourge of preventable deadly diarrheal and other waterborne diseases will continue to plague too many” (Harmon, 5/21).
As MDGs Set To Expire In 2015, U.N. Panel To Advise On Approaches To Development; African Progress Panel Calls For 'Big Push' On Continent
“The presidents of Indonesia and Liberia — Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — and the prime minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, are to co-chair a U.N. panel to advise on approaches to development after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015,” SciDev.Net reports. “Announcing the chairs to the U.N. General Assembly [on Wednesday], Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary general, also said he would appoint an assistant secretary-general for post-2015 development planning,” the news service writes, adding, “The panel will consider the mixed success of the eight MDGs, which were set in 2000 and provide targets for reducing poverty and promoting social development through such areas as education, reduction of HIV infection rates and infant mortality” (Irwin, 5/12).
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.
“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.
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.”