With only five years left until the 2015 deadline, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon has called on world leaders to attend a high-level Plenary Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals at UN Headquarters New York from 20-22 September to renew their commitment and effort in accelerating progress to reach the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
Ten years ago, 189 UN Member States (now 191) adopted the UN Millennium Declaration and endorsed a framework for development. The plan called for countries and development partners to work together to reduce poverty and hunger, and tackle ill health, lack of education, gender inequality, lack of access to clean water and environmental degradation. In all, a total of eight UN MDGs were established with targets and indicators to monitor progress.
Prominent speakers focus on
Development Goals at World Health
World Health Organization’s Director- General, Dr. Margaret Chan, presented a scorecard of progress made since 2000 on the health-related MDGs in WHO’s six regions — the central focus at this year’s World Health Assembly held in May. The scorecard gave clear and evidence-based statistical data to help foster urgent goal-setting initiatives in areas ranging from child and maternal mortality to water and sanitation. In reminding delegates of Member States, representatives and other participants that the health MDG goals, targets and indicators are interdependent measures of progress, she emphasized “they are not meant to limit priorities in health, nor define how programmes should be organized and funded”.
Dr. Chan personally hosted three lunchtime panel discussions during the Health Assembly to provide opportunities for nongovernmental and civil society organizations and other influential guests to address each specific health MDG. President of Liberia Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and UN Special Envoy for Malaria Mr. Ray Chambers were the special invited guest speakers at this year’s World Health Assembly, WHO’s highest decision- making body. Speaking to a packed assembly hall, the two high-level guests outlined the “fragile” progress and challenges that lie ahead for achieving the MDGs.
The first elected female president of Africa, Mrs. Ellen Sirleaf has outlined key health issues in Liberia as a result of 14 years of war. She described the impact of having only 50 doctors left in the country and her government’s efforts to rebuild the health system to focus specifically on decreasing maternal and child mortality. Some of the strategies outlined by her included: improving emergency obstetric care, training midwives, building health clinics for rural areas and suspending user fees. 90% of the population of Liberia live on less than $2 a day and therefore cannot afford to pay for health care. Progress is underway towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but it is fragile and assistance, she said, is essential.
Although three MDGs relate directly to health…
MDG 4 to reduce child mortality by two thirds; MDG 5 to reduce maternal deaths by three quarters and achieve universal access to reproductive health; MDG 6 to halt and reverse the spread of HIV/ AIDS, achieve universal access to treatment for HIV/ AIDS by 2010, and halt and reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.
…achieving the five other MDGs are clearly essential inter-dependent
steps to reaching the health goals :
MDG 1 has a target of halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger; MDG 2 primary education; MDG 3 empowering women; MDG 7 includes a target of halving the proportion of population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation; and MDG 8 has a target to provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries.
Well-known philanthropist and humanitarian, Mr. Ray Chambers has served as the United Nations Secretary-General’s first Special Envoy for Malaria since February 2008. He spoke of the effort to achieving the Secretary-General’s goal of ensuring universal access to malaria prevention tools in all endemic countries by the end of 2010, with the ultimate goal of achieving near zero preventable malaria deaths by 2015. Addressing delegates to the World Assembly, NGOs, UN partners, staff and media Mr. Chambers emphasized the importance of the contribution of conquering malaria in achieving the MDGs. He says without controlling malaria we will not be able to achieve several of the MDGs. He appealed for assistance in reducing the number of malaria deaths to near zero by 2015.
The MDGs are inter-dependent; all the MDG influence health, and health influences all the MDGs. For example, better health enables children to learn and adults to earn. Gender equality is essential to the achievement of better health. Reducing poverty, hunger and environmental degradation positively influences, but also depends on, better health.
Additional information is available at : http://www.who.int/topics/millennium_development_goals/about/en/index.html