More Needed to Reach MDGs, UN Report Says


MARQUETTE, Mich. — According to a U.N. report published recently, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) prompted by the Department of Economic and Social affairs of the United Nations, will require more global action and cooperation in order to meet targets by the 2015 deadline.

Most MDG targets, an accompanying press release states, will be met by 2015. Some targets, such as decreasing extreme poverty, increasing access to clean drinking water and making primary schools accessible to children of both genders, have already been met. And certain MDGs intended to eradicate diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and HIV will likely be surpassed.

However, crucial ones like reducing child and maternal mortality and increasing sanitation access in developing countries may take considerable effort to meet targets on schedule.

Sub-Saharan Africa may suffer the most due to missed targets. Approximately half of the population there lives in extreme poverty, earning less than 1.25 U.S. dollars per day, and a quarter are undernourished. But progress in addressing undernourishment has significantly slowed in recent years. All but one of the targets pertaining to this area will be missed unless immediate action is taken.

U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon stated in the first paragraph of the U.N. report, “We need bolder and more focused action where significant gaps and disparities exist.”

The child mortality rate, the area of most concern to leaders of MDG programs, has nearly halved since 1990. However, the MDG target was to reduce the mortality rate by two-thirds, meaning the plan may fall considerably short. Seven out of nine regions with this target have still not met the requirement, and the regions of Oceania, Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are not expected to.

According to the report, four out of every five deaths of children under the age of 5 occur in Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Most of these deaths are preventable — diseases rarely seen in the developed world.

Similarly, maternal death rates during childbirth were much too high considering most of them were easily preventable using technology already existing in developed nations.

Andrew Scott, research fellow at the UK’s Overseas Development Institute, believes technology and science are necessary to correcting aid not meeting targets. “There is a general recognition that all of the goals need science and technology change and investment to happen,” he said.

According to the U.N., the report contains “the most comprehensive and up-to-date data.”

But Scott disagrees, saying he was surprised that the report did not have any zero specific carbon emission targets. The sections dealing with climate change were much less focused and specific than last year’s version. Reliable statistics for monitoring the progress of impoverished countries still remain inadequate. Scott believes more time and money should be allocated for specific indicators needed to paint an accurate picture of development.

All in all, it is clear that the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals have made considerable progress in developing countries, but much more action is needed if those suffering from poverty, malnutrition, high mortality rates and unsanitary living conditions are to be saved.

Paige Frazier

Sources: 1, 2, 3, United Nations
Photo: The Lancet


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