In 2000 in a unique global declaration, world’s leaders, including European countries, committed to reach a set of eight clear and measurable goals. The so called Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aim to end extreme poverty, reduce discrimination and halt disease in the developing world by 2015. In response to the unavoidable intersection between poverty and lack of health, most of the targets agreed in 2000 are partially related to health and three goals in particular were created to expressly address the main elements of the health crisis in the developing world.
The so called health MDGs are number 4, 5 and 6. MDG 4 aims to reduce infant mortality by two-thirds by 2015. MDG 5 calls for increased efforts to improve maternal health, especially to reduce by three-quarters the maternal mortality ratio and achieve universal access to reproductive health. MDG 6 aims to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other diseases.
Yet in 2010, these three MDGs still remain alarmingly off-track:
- Every year about 9 million children die before their fifth birthday – 93% in Africa and Asia;
- Every year half a million women die from pregnancy-related causes,, 99% in developing countries;
- Every year, almost five million people die of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
In September 2010, world leaders, including European countries, will have the opportunity to review the progress made to date on the MDGs and renew their efforts towards achieving them by 2015. The EU will have a leading role to play in ensuring that at the September UN summit world leaders sit at the table with the required level of political will to turn the promises into actions, and actions into positive change for millions of people living in poverty worldwide. With only five years left, we cannot afford any further delay.
What we call for
We call for Europe to urgently adopt a concrete and measurable plan to support developing countries reach the MDGs by 2015 and to allocate all the necessary financial resources to implement it.
Action for Global Health believes that if the health MDGs are to be met, Europe and the international community must make available, with no further delay, full financial resources to respond to the health needs of the world poorest countries; prioritising the development of strong health systems that count with a well resourced health workforce; and ensuring fair access to comprehensive primary health care by the poorest and most marginalised populations.
Achieving further progress on the health MDGs will require the underlying shortfalls of weak health systems; inadequate financing of the health sector in developing countries, and inequitable access to health services to be addressed. This means taking urgent action to deliver universal access to primary health care, including preventative services and will require a rapid scaling up of efforts to address the weaknesses in health service delivery caused by huge shortages of human resources, drug stock-outs and inadequate funding, alongside more concerted efforts to remove the social, cultural and financial barriers that prevent many people in low and middle-income countries from accessing the healthcare that they need.