More Focus On Reaching MDGs Needed, Development Officials Say

During a conference in London Thursday, development officials urged world leaders to “accelerate efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 and [said] rich countries must make good on promises to boost aid to poorer nations,” Reuters AlertNet reports.

Helen Clark, the head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), said while some progress has been made in the targets to reduce the numbers of people living in poverty and extreme hunger, more efforts would be needed to cut child mortality by two-thirds and maternal mortality by three-quarters, Reuters AlertNet reports. “UNDP says only eight out of 30 countries are on track to meet the MDGs on improving maternal health – the goal that the United Nations says has seen the least progress,” the news service writes.

To meet the development goals, Clark said governments would need to step up efforts to address gender inequalities: “If you’re systematically excluding 50 percent of the population from the main benefit (of the goals) you’re not going to get there.” The article examines additional topics discussed during the conference, such as developed countries not following through on aid promises they made in 2005 (Rowling, 3/11).

Britain’s International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander announced several measures to help developing countries during the conference, including a $228 million investment to GAVI Alliance, “for vaccines in the developing world, which could help prevent 4.2 million deaths over the next five years by protecting against diseases including pneumonia and diarrhoea,” the U.K. Press Association reports (3/11). He also announced a strategy that will target 12 million children worldwide in an effort to fight global malnutrition, according to a Department for International Development press release (3/11).  

“Alexander urged countries to use a U.N. summit in September to get aid efforts back on track,” News reports. “We need leaders to endorse an action plan which will benefit hundreds of millions of people in the developing world,” Alexander said (3/12).

Such an action plan, Alexander said, should call for developed countries to double aid commitments for “basic education in low income countries from $3 billion to $6 billion a year” and “maternal, newborn and child healthcare from $4 billion US dollars to $8 billion a year,” the Press Association writes. He also discussed a U.K. initiative “to help provide free healthcare in Nepal, Malawi, Ghana, Liberia, Burundi and Sierra Leone, and a fight against malnutrition in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Nigeria and Zimbabwe” (3/11).

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