To Reach MDGs, Citizens Must Demand More From Political Leaders, Former U.N. Secretary-General Tells U.N. Foundation Board Meeting

At a U.N. Foundation board meeting in Ghana to discuss Millennium Development Goal progress, which concluded on Saturday, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan “called on the citizenry to demand the attainment of these set goals from their political leaders,” the Accra Mail reports. “It is only through this that we can put pressure on the politician to work towards achieving these goals,” he said, according to the newspaper.

“The meeting comes at the culmination of a year-long effort by the U.N. Foundation to raise awareness about the need for innovative partnerships between governments, civil society, and the private sector with the U.N. to address global challenges,” and it “builds on the positive momentum generated during the recent high-level U.N. Summit in New York that showcased how the U.N. is achieving progress in Africa,” the Accra Mail writes (10/23).

In addition to Annan, participants in the meeting included U.N. Foundation Founder and CEO Ted Turner and U.N. Foundation President Timothy Wirth, as well as health officials from Ghana, according to PEACE FM Online (10/24).

According to a U.N. Foundation press release, Turner said ahead of the meeting, “One of the best ways to accelerate progress on all of the MDGs is to improve women’s and children’s health and to reduce the burden of preventable disease by expanding access to immunization. We look forward to talking with government and civil societies leaders to hear how the U.N. can support their efforts to prevent disease and save lives” (10/19).

During the meeting, “Annan, who served as U.N. Secretary-General from 1997 to 2006 and led the efforts to establish the MDGs in 2000, advocated for a national vision to accelerate the pace of attainment of the MDGs,” the Accra Mail writes in a separate article (Yeboah, 10/23).

“According to the former U.N. boss, the issue of energy insufficiency and sparing infrastructural gaps continue to be the two major constraints that impede progress on the African continent which needs pragmatic policies to address even as it makes strides at achieving the Millennium Development Goals,” Accra Mail continues.

“According to a recent report on Ghana’s progress on the attainment of the MDGs, ‘although evidence shows that there has been significant reduction in both infant and under five mortality rates in Ghana, it is unlikely that the 2015 target of reducing the child mortality rates will be met unless coverage of effective child interventions is increased,'” the news service writes. The article includes comments by Wirth as well as Peter Quartey, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Statistics, Social and Economic Research (10/23).

Ghana News Agency adds: “The session called for renewed political leadership and commitment towards addressing the inequalities in poverty issues, child and maternal health, Family Planning (FP), HIV and AIDS, malaria, as well as gender and education issues.”

Annan also “highlighted the critical role of agriculture as a driving force to ensure food security and eradication of poverty among underprivileged societies” and “encouraged the Government of Ghana to expand its programmes on agriculture and increase funding to the sector,” the news service writes (10/22).

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