Meeting the Millennium Development Goals – can we do it?

The chair of the APPG for Global Action Against Childhood Pneumonia, Jim Dobbin MP, writes about whether we can meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Our guest writer is Jim Dobbin MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Global Action Against Childhood Pneumonia; since the Group’s inception in 2007 he has worked to raise the profile of pneumonia and MDG 4 in the UK and globally, and has spoken about pneumonia and child health at international conferences as well as helping to write and publish a “landmark report” into pneumonia and pneumococcal disease – the main cause of pneumonia

The 10 year Millennium Development Goals Review Summit took place in New York this week, with world leaders gathering to review progress towards the goals which are designed to eliminate poverty and its effects and improve education and health, particularly in the developing world.

With five years to go until the MDGs are supposed to be met, the review summit this week could not have been more important since progress in meeting the targets has so far been “unacceptably slow” according to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

Worrying signs

This lack of progress is evident to me and the APPG for global action against childhood pneumonia in our work on MDG 4 which aims to:

“Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.”

8.8 million children still die before their fifth birthday, according to recent data and pneumonia accounts for more than 1.5 million deaths each year. There have been strides forward. I have seen the great effort many countries have made to try and tackle diseases like pneumonia. In Western Africa, Latin America and Eastern Asia under-5 child mortality has been reduced by more than 50% and in Northern Africa it has come down by over 60 per cent.

Yet, I am still extremely concerned. In Sub-Saharan Africa the reduction in childhood mortality has been a mere 22 per cent in the last two decades. Indeed 33 of the 34 countries with the worst child mortality rate are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Oceania has a similarly poor rate in reducing child mortality as does Southern Asia. This slow progress equates to the loss of millions of lives every year.

Can the MDGs be met?

In the last few years the UK has been at the forefront of some of the most innovative recent international development agreements to aid the developing world.

In June 2009 the UK, along with Italy, Canada, the Russian Federation, Norway and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched the Advance Market Commitment against pneumococcal disease. This funding mechanism agreed that manufacturers supply important vaccines against pneumococcal disease (the primary cause of pneumonia in the developing world) to developing countries at a discounted price.

Also, the recently passed World Health Assembly (WHA) Resolution on Pneumonia, which obliges the 193 World Health Organisation member countries to implement and report on strategies to prevent, protect and treat pneumonia, was spearheaded in part by the UK. The coalition government needs to continue this funding and coordination if the MDGs are to be met in the next five years.

Equally the UK must work with the developing world. Countries such as Bangladesh and Malawi have made great progress in building political consensus and driving forward immunisation programs which are key to meeting MDG4.

This is why I welcome Nick Clegg’s strong speech in New York on Wednesday about the need to meet the MDGs, which seems to have been replicated by a number of other countries. This is an enormous boost for organisations involved in the fight against global poverty such as the WHO, UNICEF, the GAVI Alliance and others. Globally I think this represents one big step towards meeting the MDGs.

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15 Responses to “Meeting the Millennium Development Goals – can we do it?”

  1. Co-operative Party

    Labour & Co-operative MP Jim Dobbin writes for @leftfootfwd: Meeting the Millennium Development Goals – can we do it?

  2. Shamik Das

    Meeting the Millennium Development Goals – can we do it? asks Labour MP Jim Dobbin on @leftfootfwd

  3. LCID

    Labour & the Co-operative Party MP Jim Dobbin, Chair of the All Party Group on Childhood Pneumonia, writes for…

  4. LCID

    Labour & @CoopParty MP Jim Dobbin, Chair of the APPG on Childhood Pneumonia, writes for @leftfootfwd on MDGs

  5. Lee Butcher

    RT @LabourCID: Labour & @CoopParty MP Jim Dobbin, Chair of the APPG on Childhood Pneumonia, writes for @leftfootfwd on MDGs

  6. Michael Stephenson

    RT @CoopParty: Labour & Co-operative MP Jim Dobbin writes for @leftfootfwd: Meeting the Millennium Development Goals – can we do it?

  7. Liam O'Rourke

    RT @CoopParty: Labour & Co-operative MP Jim Dobbin writes for @leftfootfwd: Meeting the Millennium Development Goals – can we do it?

  8. Jiesheng

    Again Afro-Pessimism in the line “In Sub-Saharan Africa the reduction in childhood mortality has been a mere 22 per cent in the last two decades”. Don’t you guys get that the MDGs are global targets meant to be met on a collective level?The more you hard that ooh Africa is far behind negates first the history of African development and seocn the increasing need to have tailored context sensitive targets.

  9. William

    I think Nick Clegg’s recent comments are really important and this sort of global consensus is necessary.

    In terms of Afro-pessismism I think that it needs to be looked at at a more localised levels. SOme parts of Africa are doing very well and they should be used as best practice examples.

  10. Bethea

    Having worked a lot on maternal and child health this MDG summit has been absolutely crucial
    in highlighting how far we still have to go. In particular we need to accelerate efforts towards MDG 5 which is currently lagging furthest behind. Together we can make women matter

  11. Lucy

    A lot of the reporting out of the MDG summit has been cynical and pessimistic. However I believe the overriding message must be that we take heart in the reductions in mortality that you have mentioned. These figures demonstrate that investments from the British government in innovative mechanisms such as the AMC and other initiatives such as the Global Fund are paying off and above all serve to emphasize the need for continued investment.

  12. Hugh

    I think Jim has put this very well. There has been a lot done but there remains a lot to do. The advantage we have with pneumonia is that if we can get it right and the recent WHA resolution will help in getting it right, then the fight against pneumonia will almost meet the MDG4 target in itself.

    Jieseng may make the case for being less pessimistic about Africa but we can’t ignore the fact that there are more deaths in sub-Saharan Africa from pneumonia than any other region in the world. The AMC, the last Labour Government and progressive, forward thinking governments like Malawi and the work of organisations like IVAC and GAVI will all help enormously in this great fight.

  13. Orin Levine

    Meeting the Millennium Development Goals – can we do it? | Left Foot Forward

  14. Orin Levine

    New blog post from UK MP Jim Dobbin, member of All Party Parliamentary Group vs Child Pneumonia

  15. TEDxFoggyBottom

    RT @leftfootfwd: Meeting the Millennium Development Goals – can we do it?

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