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No Singular Pathway To Achieve MDGs 4, 5

In an opinion piece published as part of the Skoll World Forum and Johnson & Johnson “Debate & Series,” which, according to the series summary, examines what “we must do differently or better to achieve [Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)] 4, 5 and/or 6 — all focused on improving public health — by the deadline,” Mariam Claeson, the interim director of the maternal, newborn, and child health program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, asks, “What can we change or improve that will ensure the greatest impact on maternal, newborn and child survival not only in the next 850 days but as we lay the foundation for sustained acceleration beyond 2015?” She writes, “The answer points to a series of improvements that we must undertake to improve the health and lives of women and children in the poorest countries in the world.”

“If we had to select only one solution for maternal and newborn survival it could be to rapidly increase the coverage of the effective use of contraception and family planning,” Claeson continues, adding, “If we had to select only one solution for closing the gap in child survival it could be to scale up integrated community case management of childhood illness in all rural areas where under-five mortality still remains the highest.” However, she states, “because we do not need to choose one solution above another to accelerate progress on selected MDGs, we can focus on critical methods that will help us achieve our goals across the continuum of reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health and nutrition.” She highlights the benefits of strategic and catalytic partnerships and concludes, “The question is not what can we do but how willing are we to do what it takes, to change the way we work together as we enter the last 850 days before the MDGs deadline, and to act on the evidence we have to save the lives of women and children?” (9/5).