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World Leaders Map Strategy for Achieving Millennium Development Goals
On Sept. 20-22, 2010, world leaders met at the United Nations (UN) in New York City to discuss the progress made and near-term strategy for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight major antipoverty and global health goals. The MDGs were adopted in 2000 by 189 UN member states and provide a framework for focus and accountability by setting international development objectives, including objectives in global public health. With five years remaining for the timetable to meet the MDGs, the UN held a high-level plenary meeting of world leaders to review the progress, assess obstacles and gaps, and discuss strategies and actions to help meet the MDGs by the target date of 2015.
Following the conclusion of the MDG summit in late September, world leaders attending the summit adopted a global action plan to achieve the eight MDGs by the target date of 2015 and also announced specific initiatives in women’s and children’s health and other initiatives against poverty, hunger, and disease. Highlights are the strategic plan are outlined below as specified by a Sept. 22, 2010 UN press release.
Goal 1: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower Women
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality and Goal 5: improve maternal health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Global Partnership for Development
US perspective. President Barack Obama spoke at the MDG summit in New York last month, which outlined the US commitment to participate in achieving the MDGs and the importance of international development goals in global and national policy. “.Let’s put to rest the old myth that development is mere charity that does not serve our interest,” he said, according to a Sept. 22, 2010 White House press statement. “And let’s reject the cynicism that says certain countries are condemned to perpetual poverty, for the past half century has witnessed more gains in human development than anytime in history…My national security strategy recognizes development not only as a moral imperative but [as] a strategic and economic imperative.”
At the MDG summit, Obama announced the new US Global Development Policy, which he said is was the first such comprehensive policy by an American administration. “It’s rooted in the America’s enduring commitment to the dignity and potential of every human being. And it outlines our new approach and the new thinking that will guide our overall development efforts, including the plan that I promised last year and that my administration has delivered to pursue the Millennium Development Goals. Put simply, the United States is changing the way we do business.”
This approach entails changing the way it defines development, to not only include the amount of money provided in international aid, but also using other tools such as diplomacy, trade, and investment policies, to help developing countries move from poverty to prosperity. This new approach also involves changing the view of the goal of development as a focus for long-term development and reducing the dependence of developing countries on aid. “Instead of just managing poverty, we have to offer nations and peoples a path out of poverty,” said Obama in the White House statement. He emphasized the use of the criteria specified by the US Agency for International Development for measuring the success of the MDGs such as the use of new and sustainable technologies, mutual accountability, and improved tracking of development outcomes.
“The 21st century must and will be different for every woman and child,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a Sept. 22, 2010 press release. The global strategy involves a $40-billion commitment by the private sector, foundations, international organizations, civil society groups, and research groups. Several agencies, including the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Population Found (UNFPA), the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Bank are collaborating to mobilize ongoing political and operational support, including fighting for universal access to care for all women and children. In addition, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI), and the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDs, Tuberculosis and Malaria are working with this team to ensure integrated services and efforts across a range of health needs.
“This team will identify and connect resources to the people who need them based on the priorities set by countries in their national health plans,” according to the UN press release. “The Global Strategy asks us to be smart, strategic, and resourceful as never before,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, in the UN press release. “By integrating their actions, the eight international-related health agencies will strengthen capacities across the board, in ways that meet the comprehensive needs of women and children.”
HIV/AIDs. Following the MDG summit, the UN released a report showing progress in improving access to HIV/AIDs services in 37 developing countries. The report, Towards Universal Access, was produced by WHO, UNICEF, and UNAIDS, and assesses progress in 144 low- and middle-income countries. The report’s findings showed that 5.25 million people had access to HIV treatment in low- and middle-income countries last year, accounting for 36% of those in need, an increase of 1.2 million people compared with 2008. In eastern and southern Africa, the regions most severely affected by HIV, treatment coverage increased from 32% to 41$ in one year, and half of all pregnant women were able to access HIV testing and counseling. In sub-Saharan Africa, close to one million people began antiretroviral treatment, resulting in 37% coverage of those in need. The rate in other regions included: Latin American and the Caribbean, 50%; East, South and Southeast Asia, 31%; Europe and Asia, 19%; and North Africa and the Middle East, 11%. Globally, a record 53% of pregnant women needing services to prevent mother-to-child transmissions received them.
Despite the gains, the report also called attention to significant challenges in delivering universal access in most countries such as funding shortages, limited human resources, and weak procurement and supply-management systems for HIV drugs and diagnostics. The report called for a set of actions to be taken by the international community, consistent with the key strategies proposed in the new Global Health Sector Strategy for HIV/AIDS (2011-2015). WHO is developing the strategy, which is intended to guide the next phase of the health-sector response to HIV/AIDS once it is discussed and ratified by WHO’s World Health Assembly next year, according to a Sept. 28, 2010 UN press release.
HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. In early October 2010, donor countries, private foundations, corporations, and individuals that met at the UN pledged more than $11.5 billion in new funding during the next three years for the global partnership to fight three killer diseases: HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
“At a time when so many governments are tightening their belts, these commitments send a powerful message. It shows that many world leaders want to do the right thing beyond their borders, too,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who chaired a two-day replenishment meeting for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. “However, the demand for funding will outstrip even the important commitments made today. That means we must continue to mobilize more resources, more will, more quickly,” he noted at a at UN headquarters on Oct. 5, 2010 after the meeting concluded. “This work is not just about replenishing the fund; it is about replenishing hope and dignity in people’s lives,” he added.
During the past eight years, the programs supported by the Global Fund have saved an estimated 5.7 million lives, provided AIDS treatment for 2.8 million people and TB treatment for 7 million people, and distributed 122 million bed nets to prevent malaria.
The Global Fund was created in 2002 to scale up resources to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. To date, the fund has committed $19.3 billion in 144 countries to support large-scale prevention, treatment and care program against the three diseases.
While welcoming the pledges made, the Executive Director of the Global Fund, Michel Kazatchkine, noted that they are not enough to meet expected demand and to met the MDGs by their target deadlines, and additional public and private funding is needed.