By Elita Wong. With the 2015 deadline just around the corner, there is increased urgency amongst global health leaders to meet the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) first proposed almost 12 years ago. On April 23, USAID launched a global campaign to help more children reach the age of five, a critical age that greatly determines the child’s progression into adulthood. In Britain, aid groups are gearing up for the Make Poverty History 2 campaign in 2013, this time with a focus on hunger as a result of rising commodity prices that have been pushing more people around the world into poverty during the last five years.
To accomplish their mission, groups are becoming increasingly creative with the way they are approaching traditionally challenging obstacles in providing health services. Ideas range from introducing digital and mobile health to streamline communications and provide safer care, to ensuring that low-cost immunizations are delivered to everyone, preventing the proliferation of infectious agents. The race is on to increase public awareness to emphasize the importance of social involvement between communities and individuals across the globe.
Despite much criticism about the inability of most countries to meet these objectives, poverty has declined in many countries and regions, infectious diseases have been better controlled, and child mortality rates have improved. The MDGs have also held countries accountable for maintaining measurable outcomes and initiating more specific interventions since their establishment.
When looking ahead, we should consider recommendations from the World Health Organization’s most recent MDG report, which identified a major inhibitory factor in advancement that may seem unavoidable, but is most certainly not. We are failing to address widespread disparities in progression rates towards MDG attainment for the impoverished and disadvantaged based on sex, age, ethnicity, or disability. In a snapshot, the poorest children have made the slowest progress in terms of improved nutrition, women are still lacking full and productive job opportunities, and advances in sanitation often bypass the poor and those living in rural areas.
So what are the next steps to address the needs of the most vulnerable populations to fulfill our universal desire for a new standard of living? Proposed solutions range from high-tech interventions such as using tablet computers for HIV education and mHealth for midwives, to more process-oriented plans such as health care workforce scale up.
For the next two weeks, we will be running a series of posts that will provide insight from the movers and shakers in international health development from around the world. We hope that the posts in this series provide readers the opportunity to view these local examples from a global perspective, and we invite and encourage each one of you to join the conversation. Our goal is to give a taste of the most current projects aimed at achieving a more sustainable, inclusive and equitable future, and to shed light on public health work that is often kept behind the scenes.
Please share your thoughts with us this week and next on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter with hashtag #DWGlobal.