Monday, September 20, 2010

Integrating the MDGs: delivering for girls, women and babies

Mr Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS

Ahead of the opening of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit at the UN in New York City, General Assembly delegates gathered today for a dialogue with bilateral donors, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), First Ladies, youth leaders and the private sector on how to secure the resources and political will needed to achieve the MDGs—with specific focus on delivering solutions for women, girls and babies.

The event, Accelerating Action on the MDGs: Delivering for Girls, Women and Babies, was organized by the global advocacy organization Women Deliver, and co-sponsored by UNFPA, WHO, World Bank and UNAIDS. Speakers included Ms Graça Machel, renowned international advocate for women’s and children’s rights, Mr Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a managing director with the World Bank.

‘Achieving the MDGs is possible’
The speakers presented compelling cases for the possibility of achieving the MDGs, if the world’s leaders make the necessary resources available. With 110 million children not having access primary education—of which two thirds are girls—and women being disproportionally represented among the 1.4 billion people living below the poverty line, many of the MDGs seem far from attainable.

“This agenda will never succeed, if it remains only in the hands of us here in New York. It must be owned at the country level, by every head of state, every woman and every girl,” said Ms Machel.

Yet, the AIDS movement has effectively demonstrated that achieving the MDGs is possible: countries such as Botswana and Namibia are close to reaching the goal of virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV; and, twenty-two of the most affected countries in sub-Saharan Africa have reduced new HIV infections by more than 25%. Key steps have been taken to stop and reverse the spread of HIV by 2015, as MDG 6 reads.

Integration of the MDGs
According to Mr. Sidibé, it is clear that investing in one MDG will help achieve the others. “Where HIV is prevented, maternal mortality decreases. When a mother’s life is saved; a newborn’s life is usually saved. When girls are educated, poverty decreases.”

Mr Sidibé added that the AIDS response should be a bridge for joining health and development movements, such as maternal and child health, sexual and reproductive health, and women’s rights. “For me, it is clear: no progress on the MDGs without integration,” he said.

Other speakers at the event included Fred Sai, Ghanaian Family Health Physician, Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, CEO of Vestergaard Frandsen SA, and Imane Khachani, of the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, Morocco.

After each speaker, the audience discussed in small groups the challenges and shared their views and strategies on how they can be met and the way forward. The results of the discussions will be posted on the Women Deliver website.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

RP to gear up for new development goals

By Iris C. Gonzales
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Countries including the Philippines are expected to gear up for new development goals, dubbed as Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Plus during the upcoming United Nations Review Summit on MDGs on Sept. 21, said UN resident coordinator in the Philippines Jacqui Badcock.

In a recent interview with The Star, Badcock said what may come out during the summit is a discussion on the so-called MDGs Plus.

“There’s still a lot to do. I suspect there’ll be a huge focus on the goals that we are struggling to achieve,” Badcock said.

The eight MDGs are a set of specific and time-bound development goals committed by the governments to be achieved by 2015, using 1990 data as baseline.

The eight goals are to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and women empowerment, reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat diseases; ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development.

Badcock said that there are still problems by most countries around the globe in achieving the goals on maternal health, education and poverty.

“There is a question mark on maternal health and whether we’ll achieve education. And then we know that (achieving the goal on) poverty is on the borderline. We hope we’ll achieve it. The one on hunger is the hardest one for so many countries,” Badcock said.

She noted that malnutrition is still prevalent in so many countries.

“I imagine that what will come out on the summit is the need to focus even more on some MDGs,” she said.

She said the country’s efforts in achieving the MDGs needs improvement but she expressed optimism that the Aquino administration would be working on that.

Last week, the Philippine government launched its latest report on the MDGs, with officials noting that the country is likely to miss three of the eight development goals.

Of the eight goals, the report said that the government should improve its focus on reducing poverty, improving education and achieving maternal health.

It should also focus on improving the performance of boys in basic education as well as on reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the country.

On the other hand, the report said the country has high probabilities of meeting the targets of reducing child mortality; promoting women empowerment, reversing the incidence of malaria and tuberculosis and providing access to sanitary facilities, which according to the report has already been surpassed.

Nevertheless, the government said, it should exert all that it can to realize the MDGs within the next five years.

“The economy needs to attract local and foreign investments to spur economic growth. To do this, physical infrastructure has to be improved, water and power have to be made available at competitive rates and more transparent systems in doing business need to be established,” the MDG report said.