Summit Negotiators Seek To Get MDGs ‘Back On Track’
"World powers are moving slowly toward an accord on the strategy to be embraced at a looming United Nations summit aiming to get the lofty Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] back on track," Agence France-Presse writes in an article examining the ongoing debates over how best to achieve the MDGs before the 2015 deadline.
"Ten years after more than 150 leaders set eight ambitious targets for 2015 ranging from cutting child mortality rates by two thirds, to halving the number of people living in absolute poverty and spreading access to the Internet none [is] likely to be reached, experts say," the news service writes. "Fallout from the financial crisis, a lack of will and bad policies have been blamed by aid groups and experts for the millions of children still dying needlessly from treatable illnesses, to a lack of work for the poor and inequality faced by women. Experts are looking to presidents Barack Obama of the United States, Nicolas Sarkozy of France and other leaders at the Millennium reunion summit on September 20-22 to lay on a turbo-charged finish to the goal line," AFP continues.
Development experts have called for governments to commit to additional money and stronger policies to help meet the MDG targets, however agreeing on the breakdown of investments and responsibilities has proven challenging, diplomats said, according to AFP. For instance, "Brazil, Chile, France, Norway and other countries want to see 'innovative financing,' such as a tax on air tickets or financial transactions, used for development, said one western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity," while "[a] United States-led bloc is strongly against such ideas," the article reports.
According to the article, "[m]uch attention will be placed on finding new money to improve health and education, as well as ways to make sure it is well spent." Paul Seger, Switzerland's U.N. ambassador who will be president of the U.N. General Assembly following the summit, said, "It is the finance that has caused the deepest divisions. There is enormous pressure now on the budgets of rich countries."
The news service notes that negotiators hope to submit "the final summit blueprint" by Sept. 15 after missing the first deadline, and it forecasts how the topics of human rights, climate change and poverty might be addressed at the meeting. The article also includes comments by Peter Yeo, executive director of the Better World Campaign and a vice president of the United Nations Foundation, and Carolyn Miles, executive vice president of Save the Children (Withcher, 9/8).
Johnson & Johnson Commits To Mother, Child Welfare In Developing Nations
Reuters reports that ahead of the U.N. MDG Summit, Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday announced it would commit "grant money, drugs and research funding for new HIV and tuberculosis medications as part of a five-year, private sector effort to improve the health up to 120 million women and children in developing nations each year" (Steenhuysen, 9/9).
The five-year program, called "Every Mother, Every Child," will include "medicine for treating intestinal worms in children, send pregnant women messages on prenatal health on their cell phones, and work to make childbirth safer," to the Associated Press adds, in an article that elaborates on the four major components of the initiative (Johnson, 9/8).
"We have a responsibility to contribute to a future in which women and children have the latest knowledge, technology and medicines to support good health," Johnson & Johnson Chairman and CEO William Weldon said in a press release. "Johnson & Johnson has a long history of advancing care for women and children, and we're pleased to continue that legacy with this commitment," he added.
The release also quotes U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who in response to the initiative said, "This is the type of initiative we have called for, and I commend the emphasis on integration of mobile technologies, medicines, new science and prevention" (9/8).
Philippines President Recommits To MDGs, Despite Report That Such Achievement Is Unlikely
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports that Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday vowed to maintain the country's commitments to the MDGs, despite the findings of a National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) progress report, which warned "the country was in serious danger of missing many of the U.N. development goals, including halving poverty by 2015."
"Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga had told the President there was only a 'medium' chance poverty will be halved, a 'low' chance that fewer mothers will die while giving birth, while AIDS was still spreading. He also reported that [the] government was behind targets on providing basic education and safe tap water for all," the newspaper writes.
In a speech ahead of a forum on the MDGs Wednesday, Aquino highlighted government-backed efforts underway to help improve the country's MDG progress and noted the government's maintained commitment "to fight corruption. Better governance, transparency and accountability will ensure more efficient use of funds for MDGs and will minimize leaks and waste in the use of public funds," he said.
"Citing the positive points in NEDA's progress report, Mr. Aquino said the Philippines was 'faring well' in the reduction of the mortality rate among children age five and below, and the death rate associated with malaria. He also cited 'leaps in the treatment of tuberculosis,'" according to the newspaper (9/9).
BusinessWorld Online also provides a breakdown of the Philippine's progress towards MDG targets: "In terms of improving maternal health (Goal 5), the report also states that the Philippines is significantly behind with respect to reducing, by two-thirds, the number of women who die in childbirth. This was at 162 per 100,000 live births as of 2006, better than 1993's 209, but still far from the 2015 goal of 52." The country also received low ratings on its efforts to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS in adults over the age of 15, according to the news service (9/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.