MDGs: Saving the World by 2015 (w/video)

2000 - 2015GIVEN THE RULING DESPAIR in the world’s economic, political, and health climate, it seems ages ago there were ever discussions about hope and our future. Yet in Year 2000–‘Year of the Millennium’–practical optimists dreamed this would be a century of better health, education, environment, equity, and equality for all. The United Nations set into motion eight lofty goals and–seemingly impossible–set a deadline of 2015 for these Millennium Development Goals — MDGs for short.  Here’s my video:

(Video Lesson: 1:15) Saving the World by 2015: Millennium Development Goals

Every goal: inextricably intertwined with good health; i.e. poverty breeds disease, and disease breeds poverty. Every goal: demanding cooperation on a multidimensional and international level. There’s even a YouTube video on these MDGs.

How can any of this happen in one mere generation? Each MDG focuses on specific targets with  measurable indicators, realistic milestones, and precise timelines for achieving that goal by 2015 on global, regional, national, and local levels. It’s see-saw success, so far: some goals are nearly reached, others far less so. The U.N.’s eight main MDG Goals are: (Note: Illustrations are courtesy the United Nation.)

MDG 1_PovertyHunger  MDG #1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger by (1) “reducing by half the proportion of people living on less than $1/day” and (2) “reducing by half the proportion of children who are malnourished.”

How’s it going? MDG #1 is on track for reducing global extreme poverty–on $1/day, yet specific places like sub-Saharan Africa have made little progress. Children’s nutrition has improved, yet still short of the MDG goal. [Check progress at this link.]


MDG2_Education MDG #2: Achieve Universal Primary Education by “ensuring that children everywhere–boys and girls alike–will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.”

How’s it going? Although there’s been progress in reaching this goal, it will likely fall short of 2015. [Current progress on education, at this link.]


MDG3_Gender MDG #3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women by “eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015.”

How’s it going? More young girls are becoming educated, but still there are gender gaps in access not only in education, but also in employment and political office. [Current progress on gender and women, at this link.]


MDG4_Child MortalityMDG #4: Reduce Child Mortality by “reducing the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015.”

How’s it going? Child mortality, thankfully, is declining. At the heart of 70% of all child deaths are just a handful of conditions: diarrhea; pneumonia; malnutrition; malaria; measles; HIV/AIDS; and neonatal problems. [Latest updates and WHO progress reports at these links on child mortality; on immunizations; on malaria; on diarrhea; on pneumonia; on measles; on HIV/AIDS; and on neonatal complications.]


MDG5_Maternal Health MDG #5: Improve Maternal Health by “reducing the maternal mortality rate by three-quarters, between 1990 and 2015.”

How’s it going? Maternal mortality rates are dropping, but very slowly — especially sad because so many deaths are preventable. [Latest progress on maternal and reproductive health in this U.N. report for MDG #5.]


MDG6_DiseasesMDG #6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases by “halting and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, and the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.”

How’s it going? The number of new HIV cases has declined. Although TB cases are on the rise, more people are getting treated. The best news is that several dozen countries are on target for reducing malaria and achieving MDG #6. [Latest progress at these links for HIV/AIDS, for malaria, and for tuberculosis.]


MDG7_Environment MDG #7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability by “cutting in half the proportion of people without safe drinking water and without sanitation in rural areas.

How’s it going? Good news – the safe drinking water goal is achieved!  However, the sanitation portion still has a long ways to go.[Progress is detailed in this 2012 WHO/UNICEF tracking report.]


MDG8_PartnershipMDG #8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development by (1) “more fully developing an open, rule-based predictable, nondiscriminatory trading and financial system,” and (2) “dealing comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries.”

How’s it going? It’s tricky to measure progress here, since loans, debts, and international financial crises take time to track, and ‘official development programs’ (ODAs) take time to gain traction. [Current progress at this link.]

SO WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? A huge MDG oversight is mental illness and mental health–from depression to post-traumatic stress following war, tsunamis, and earthquakes.  However, the mere fact of mental health not included as an official Millennium Development Goal has drawn additional publicity and attention to this area. Think of it as ‘global health lemons’ made into ‘global health lemonade.’

FOR A QUICK GLIMPSE at how closely we’re achieving these eight Millennium Development Goals, read “MDGS: Progress Toward the Health-Related Goals.


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Selective Resources: Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
1. Millennium Development Goals, in the United Nations Millennium Declaration.
2. Millennium Development Goals Report 2011, by the United Nations.
3. MDG Monitor – Entertaining, interactive tracking of each goal and its progress in world.
4.”We Can End Poverty” – U.N. Millennium Development Goals.
5. World Health Statistics 2011, by World Health Organization (WHO). Includes MDGs and health indicators.

.[Note: The eight MDG symbols on this page originate with the United Nations.]

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