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Getting The Best Out of The MDG Summit

20 September 2010

London, September 20: This week, heads of state, business leaders and influential philanthropists are descending on New York City to consider the direction and achievements of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and take stock of how far the global project has come since its inception in 2000.

On the up side, great strides have been made towards the achievement of many of the targets enshrined within the MDGs. Continued financial and structural support from governments and multi-lateral institutions across the world has resulted in improvements in access to clean water and sanitation, education and basic healthcare for millions of people across the developing world. Decision makers have also come to acknowledge the value of investment in sustainable interventions to combat global warming and the effects of climate change, which tend to affect the poorest the most.

However, while there have been some tangible gains, there been areas where progress since MDG kick-off has been shamefully slow. Key among these are Goal 4, which focuses on child health, and Goal 5, which is concerned with maternal health. In both cases, success is measured in lives saved or improved. In both cases Malaria Consortium is heavily involved with interventions to tackle child, maternal and newborn health through integrated programmes to combat malaria and childhood diseases, as well as through maternal health care.

From a regional perspective, sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania and South Asia (excluding India) are where there has been insufficient progress in reduction in deaths of children under the age of five, with a three percent or less decrease in the mortality rate in the 20 year period between 1990 and 2009 (UNICEF'sLevels and Trends in Child Mortality Report 2010).

Improvements to the maternal mortality rate have also been desperately slow, with little or no improvement in the statistics for some time. However, according to a new report released by the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Bank, the number of women dying due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth has decreased by 34 percent from an estimated 546,000 in 1990 to 358,000 in 2008 (Trends in Maternal Mortality). The vast majority of deaths still occurring, however, are in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia (totalling 87 percent.)

The UK is represented at the Summit by Deputy-Prime Minister, Nick Clegg and Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell. Both have been clear in advance of the meeting that the UK government will be focusing its funding on support to fragile states, and will be highlighting the need to spotlight maternal health and the global fight against malaria at the Summit.

Malaria Consortium applauds the UK government’s commitment to international development and its determination to direct funding towards those areas most in need. We would also urge that, in its capacity as an innovator in international development, the government maintains a holistic approach towards spending that recognises the interconnectedness of all the Goals.

With this week’s MDG Summit, it is hoped that this interconnectedness is realised and that the world’s decision-makers aim for a development scenario that looks far beyond the achievement of the MDGs by 2015.

For more information, please contact Diana Thomas, d.thomas@malariaconsortium.org

For an up-to-date review of the MDG achievement, click here to see the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UN Millennium Campaign commissioned Millennium Development Goals Report Card: Measuring Progress Across Countries.

 

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