As the Social Good Summit and the UN General Assembly meet in New York this week, we pause to reflect on this (precious) moment in time.
The good news? Maternal mortality is decreasing (by 50% since 1990), child mortality is decreasing, and newborn health is on the agenda. It is not just good news, it's amazing news: "the global average annual rate of reduction in under-five mortality accelerated from 1.2 per cent a year for the period 1990-1995 to 3.9 per cent for 2005-2012." (UNICEF, WHO, World Bank 2013). Child mortality is falling, at a faster and faster rate. Some countries, like Ethiopia, met the MDG target early.
As the number of days to meet the MDGs falls below the 1000 mark, global activists are reflecting on the post 2015 agenda. When we know that such progress is possible, it increases the pressure and responsibility to ensure that it continues. One of the biggest shifts as we reach 2015 is the degree of general awareness amongst non-policymakers and the volume and VOICE of populations and activists in the definition of and effort to meet development goals. This is a wonderful thing.
The Millennium Development Goals are called by some, the most ambitious anti-poverty goals agreed upon-- in the history of the human race. Others have criticized the MDGs for being too cookie-cutter, and not adapted to country GDP and country starting points. How can every country, no matter what the starting point, decrease maternal and child mortality by the same proportion? A study this year by Johns Hopkins takes into account GDP and countries health starting points and finds that some countries have exceeded expectations. Here is [David Bishoi's summary thoughts in a blog post] (http://www.who.int/pmnch/knowledge/publications/successfactors/en/index1.html):
We found four African countries that exceeded our high performance target:
Botswana,Liberia, Niger, and Rwanda. Paying attention to these regional leaders and other
high performers can offer new strategic insights. None of these countries had a magic bullet that made life better. Some had the good fortune that their head of state was committed to improving the health of the people. Some had charismatic and effective health officials. A
common denominator is country ownership and participation in decision making."
In plain English please? The bottom line is that moving forward, past 2015 when the first set of Millennium Development Goals 'are due', country-specific targets may be a better measure of performance and accountability. In this particular study by JHU, Botswana, Liberia, Niger and Rwanda are doing better than expected given their initial starting points and their GDP.
As reported by the Maternal Health Task Force, the [United Nations latest consultation] (http://maternalhealthtaskforce.org/discuss/wpblog/2013/09/23/as-un-general-assembly-reviews-mdgs-how-can-the-next-global-development-framework-accelerate-progress-on-maternal-health/) recommended that maternal mortality ratio be reduced to “no more than X deaths per 100,000 births” by 2030 as part of goal 4, which seeks to “Ensure Healthy Lives.” They are focusing on an absolute figure.
The specifics of the goal really matter. The difference between a 3/4 reduction in maternal mortality and an absolute rate of maternal death per 100,000 of 50 could mean tens of thousands of women's lives. It's important to maximize outcomes. It's a matter of life and death.
If you'd like to add your voice, be sure to take advantage of the growing number of ways to have a say in post 2015 goals including here:
[Hub for post 2015 development goals] (http://post2015.org/)
Jump on Twitter and follow #post2015
[Vote to have a say in your world] (http://www.myworld2015.org)