World TB Day

World Tuberculosis Day is held on March 24 annually to honor the date in 1882 that Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of the bacillus that causes the illness, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The theme of World TB Day 2016 is “Unite to End TB.”

The Threat of Tuberculosis

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that tuberculosis or “TB” still kills more people today than any other communicable disease. In 2014, over 9.6 million people contracted TB and 1.5 million died from the disease. Over 1 million children fell ill with TB and 140,000 died from the disease.

In addition, the WHO reports that low to middle-income countries are the hardest hit in terms of annual TB cases. With more than one-quarter of all TB cases occurring in Africa, USAID has partnered with African Strategies for Health to develop a plan to deal with the epidemic of childhood TB in 12 African countries.

The analysis includes ideas (1) to fortify the ability of healthcare workers to diagnose children infected with TB; (2) to help with early identification of child TB, delays in diagnosis cost lives; and also (3) to make sure that there is treatment close to home.

MDG Improving TB Treatment

The WHO points out that there has been much advancement in the treatment of TB since the announcement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the United Nation (UN). TB infection has fallen by an average of 1.5% per year since 2000 and is now 18% lower than in 2000. The death rate dropped almost 50% between 1990 and 2015 and approximately 43 million lives have been saved through TB treatment between 2000 and 2014.

In addition, the Millennium Development Goals for the treatment of TB by 2015 have been reached. Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is among the health targets adopted by the U.N. Goal #3 of the Sustainable Development Goals to “ensure healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.”

TB is an airborne disease and relatively easy to contract and is often misdiagnosed. However, the disease is preventable. The WHO’s strategy is to cut new cases of TB by 80% and to reduce TB deaths by 90% between 2015 and 2030. The organization also want to ensure that no family affected by TB faces financial ruin.

Rhonda Marrone

Millennium_Development_GoalsAs 2015 comes to a close and the world takes a look at the progress that has been made in global poverty relief, it is clear that significant progress has been achieved. The list of what has been accomplished is extensive, but here are some of the top Millennium Development Goals successes:

  1. Between 1990 and 2015 the number of people living in extreme poverty went from 1.9 billion to 836 million people. That’s 1,090 million people who no longer live in poverty.
  2. The number of primary school age children who were out of school dropped globally from 100 million to 57 million. That’s 43 million more children able to go to school.
  3. In 1990, for every 100 boys that attended school in Asia, there were only 74 girls attending. That number has now risen from 74 to 103 girls.
  4. The number of infant deaths under age 5 has declined from 12.7 million to in 1990, to 6 million today.
  5. In 1990, only 2.3 billion people had access to clean drinking water. That number has now climbed to 4.2 billion.
  6. 99 percent of all countries have more women in parliament than they did in 1990.
  7. The child mortality rate has been reduced from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births, and it continues to fall.
  8. The number of people living on only $1.25 a day has gone from 47 percent in 1990 to 14 percent in 2015.

While the Millennium Development Goals have had many successes, some goals have not been reached. World leaders have come together once again to decide on the new long-term sustainability goals, building on the past successes.

According to the UN, The Sustainable Development Goals, “will break fresh ground with ambition on inequalities, economic growth, decent jobs, cities and human settlements, industrialization, energy, climate change, sustainable consumption and production, peace and justice.”

Drusilla Gibbs

Sources: The Guardian, UN
Photo: Flickr

Victories of the MDGsThe Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been the development foundation for the past 15 years, and as the movement comes to an end, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon describes it as “the most successful anti-poverty movement in history.” At the beginning of the millennium the world leaders gathered at the United Nations to strategize methods for fighting poverty; they created eight goals to guide them in fighting poverty in its many elements. The victories of the MDGs are as follows:

Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

The extreme poverty rate in developing countries was at 47 percent in 1990 and has since dropped to 14 percent in 2015. In those same 25 years the global number of people living in extreme poverty has dropped from 1,926 million to 836 million. And undernourished percentage in developing countries has dropped from 23.3 to 12.9.

Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

The number of out-of-school children has dropped by half between 2000 and 2015: 100 million to 57 million. In sub-Saharan African, net enrollment rate has increased by 20 percent from 2000 to 2015. The global 8 percent increase in literacy rates has also narrowed the literacy gap between men and women.

Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

In Southern Asia, for every 100 boys enrolled in primary education, 74 girls were enrolled in 1990, and now 103 girls are enrolled for every 100 boys. In 1990 women made up 35 percent of the paid workforce outside the agricultural sector; today they make up 41 percent of said work force.victories_of_the_MDGs

Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality

The global number of deaths for children below the age of 5 has dropped from 12.7 million to 6 million between 1990 and 2015. The measles vaccination has prevented 15.6 million deaths between 2000 and 2013.

Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health

Globally, the mortality ration has dropped by 45 percent since 1990 with most of its decline occurring since 2000. Contraception use has increased by 9 percent among women between the ages of 15 to 49.

Goal 6: Combat HI/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases

In 2003 0.8 million people with HIV were receiving Antiretroviral Therapy Treatment (ART), and by 2014 13.6 million people with HIV were receiving ART. Nine hundred million insecticide-treated mosquito nets were delivered to malaria prone countries in sub-Saharan Africa between 2004 and 2014.

Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

Since 1990, 1.9 billion people have gained access to clean, drinking tap water. Improved sanitation is now available to 2.1 billion people.

Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Between 2000 and 2014, the official development assistance from developed countries rose from USD $81 billion to USD $135 billion. The global effort of the MDGs has also brought mobile-cellular signal to 95 percent of the world population, and access to Internet has grown from 6 percent to 43 percent between 2000 and 2015.

According to Ban Ki-moon, the MDGs results have taught world leaders lessons that will help with carrying out the Sustainable Development Goals for the next 15 years. He said, “Reflecting on the MDGs and looking ahead to the next 15 years, there is no question that we can deliver on our shared responsibility to end poverty, leave no one behind and create a world of dignity for all.”

Marie Helene Ngom

Sources: UN, The Guardian
Photo: Pixabay, Wikipedia

Malaria Infection Rate Drops 50% Since 2000
In 2000, the UN released the Millennium Development Goal to “halt by 2015 and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria.” Reflecting back on the start of the twenty-first century, a recent study conducted at Oxford University has revealed an impressive decline in the rate of malaria infection across endemic Africa.

Using data gathered from approximately 30,000 malaria field surveys taken from sites across sub-Saharan Africa, researchers at Oxford University’s Department of Zoology investigated trends in infection by Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly malarial parasite.

What they found was the overall rate of malaria infection in the affected regions of Africa has declined by 40 percent since 2000. This translates into roughly 700 million cases of malaria prevented over 15 years.

The study also compared several methods of intervention implemented, along with which of these methods had the most substantial effect. Of these solutions, research indicates that insecticide-treated bednets accounts for 68 percent of the total prevention.

Other tactics included Artemisin-based combination therapy, an efficacious anti-malarial drug, and indoor residual spraying, or the application of insecticide to the inside of homes.

Another report jointly released by UNICEF and WHO confirmed that malaria death rates have declined by 60 percent since 2000. Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, praised these preventative disease measures when she said, “Global malaria control is one of the great public health success stories of the past 15 years.”

These studies prove the effectiveness simple solutions can have in saving thousands of lives globally, as access to nets and the spraying of dwellings alone have significantly contributed to the process of eliminating an ancient disease. They also provide important evidence on how to proceed with future control planning.

While these findings indicate a confident direction in the prevention and eradication of global disease, there is still enormous progress to be made. 438,000 people have died by malaria since the beginning of 2015, of which most were children living in the poorest regions of the world.

With half of the world’s population still at risk of contracting malaria, the journey is not quite over. In just 15 years, the percentage of children under the age of five sleeping beneath a bug net reached 68 percent from an initial 2 percent.

Imagine what could be done in the next 15 years with the effective implementation of preventative measures. With the solution already available, it would seem that the proper way to celebrate progress is to continue more heavily than ever before in efforts to end malaria.

Kayla Lucia

Sources: Nature, University of Oxford, IFLScience
Photo: Wikimedia

The Millennium Development Goals Deadline Has Arrived
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) laid out eight specific targets to reduce extreme poverty and improve the living conditions of billions of people worldwide, from 2000-2015. The anticipated deadline has arrived and the results are positive, with a final report calling this “the most successful anti-poverty movement in history.”

Since 1990, the number of people living in extreme poverty has declined by more than half, falling from 1.9 billion to 836 million. In addition, according to the report the proportion of undernourished people in developing regions fell by almost half, from 23.3 percent in 1990-1992 to 12.9 percent in 2014-2016.

Below are more updated figures of the success of the MDGs:

  • Water: The target was met of halving the proportion of people who lack access to improved sources of water. Since 1990, 2.6 billion people have gained access to better water sources.
  • Mortality Rate: The under-five mortality rate has declined by more than half, from 12.7 million to less than 6 million and maternal mortality is down 45 percent worldwide.
  • Diseases: New HIV infections decreased by about 40 percent, from 2000 to 2013. In the same time period, tuberculosis prevention, treatment, and diagnosis solutions have saved the lives of 37 million. Since 2000, 6.2 million deaths of mostly children under 5 were prevented from malaria.
  • Education: The primary school enrollment rate in the developing regions has reached 91 percent with the number of children out of school dropping from 100 million to an estimated 57 million. There are also many more girls going to school compared to 15 years ago with an estimated two-thirds of developing countries closing the gender gap in education.

Despite significant gains, there are still issues to be addressed. The report indicates that gender equality, maternal health and extreme poverty and hunger remain problems in the effort to improve lives across the world.

Coming up this month, the global community will convene at the United Nations for a summit to establish a new development agenda and to adopt a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will provide a blueprint for policy and funding for the next 15 years.

Paula Acevedo

Sources:  United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Foundation Blog,
Photo: Flickr

Education and the Sustainable Development GoalsLong idolized were the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight targets created and adopted by the United Nations in 2000. Central to their aim was the eradication of global poverty by improving maternal health and access to clean water, food and education while reducing the number of people living on under $1.25 a day across the developing world.

However, the days of the Millennium Development Goals are over. They expired this year after 15 years mixed with success and failure. A new set of global development goals is now on the horizon: the Sustainable Development Goals. Once again, there will be a specific goal tailored to improve equal education access for all. But before delving into how that goal is currently shaping up, it is worth examining how education fared with the Millennium Development Goals.

Goal two of The Millennium Development Goals aimed to achieve universal primary education. The goal only had one target: “ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.”

Unfortunately, this target was not met. On the bright side, the number of children globally that now attend primary school has risen dramatically since 1990. Enrollment in the developing world has risen to 91 percent, but the goal was for universal primary education, meaning all children everywhere. There is also still a fairly large gender gap in some areas. Of the 57 million kids out of school, 33 million are in Sub-Saharan Africa and 55 percent of those 33 million children are girls.

So where are the Sustainable Development Goals heading in terms of education development in the next 15 years? First off, education gets another specific goal for itself. The target this time is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all,” not all that different from the Millennium Development Goal before it.

The Sustainable Development Goals’ “vision is to transform lives through education, recognizing the important role of education as a main driver of development.” Looking to continue with the progress created by the Millennium Development Goals, goal four of the Sustainable Development Goals will look to expand access to all by providing 12 years of free, publicly-funded, high-quality equal education. Nine of these years will be compulsory.

Particular emphasis is put on the quality of education going forward. By increasing quality of education, the 100-year education gap between the developed and developing has the potential to be reduced. Another benefit of an improvement in the quality of education is that it will improve learning outcomes. How can this be done? By “strengthening inputs, processes and evaluation of outcomes and mechanisms to measure progress.”

Another facet to quality education is ensuring that the teachers are well trained, empowered, motivated and supported. This ensures a higher level of quality when it comes to education.

Often seen as a gateway out of poverty, education is an extremely important issue when it comes to development in the developing world. It will be interesting to track the evolution of the Sustainable Development Goals’ development toward a fully-fledged goal. Hopefully, it can continue the inroads created by the Millennium Development Goals and improve education for the millions of children without it.

Gregory Baker

Sources: UNDP, UNESCO UN Millennium Goals, UN Sustainable Development,
Photo: Flickr

UN Report Reveals Goals Met in HIV Prevention for 2015
A UN report released on July 14 revealed that the sixth goal of the Millennium Development Goal agenda– to halt and reverse the spread of HIV by 2015– has been met six months ahead of schedule. According to the report, AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 41 percent since the MDGs were implemented in 2000, while new HIV infections have fallen by 35 percent. The report also reveals that the international commitment to the MDGs and to ending the HIV epidemic has averted 7.8 million AIDS-related deaths and 30 million new incidents of HIV prevention.

The MDGs, which were created by the UN in partnership with the largest gathering of world leaders in history 15 years ago, consisted of a list of eight goals that countries committed to reaching as part of the UN Millennium Declaration. UN reports released this year, which have analyzed the success of the MDGs, have revealed that many of the goals have been successfully met.

Efforts to achieve MDG Goal 1, to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty, for example, resulted in a decline in the number of people living in extreme poverty by 130 million between 1990 and 2002. Efforts to achieve MDG 4, to reduce child mortality rates, also helped child mortality rates fall from 103 deaths per 1,000 live births a year to 88 within the same time period. The success in achieving MDG 6, however, has been particularly remarkable, especially given that in 2000, AIDS was one of the biggest killers in the world.

The results of the recent report also represent a huge success in the way that UN goals are measured; since it reveals that success in achieving MDG benchmarks can actually be quantified with real, hard data when the international community puts in a concerted effort to record progress in achieving a specific goal. The success of MDG 6 of HIV prevention is also regarded as one of the smartest investments in global health and development to be reached in recent history.

UNAIDS has also stated that the result of efforts to combat HIV and AIDS illustrates a theoretical success, since it reveals a seismic change in the way that the international community regards illnesses that have traditionally been concentrated in poor, non-Western areas such as sub-Saharan Africa.

“Fifteen years ago there was a conspiracy of silence. AIDS was a disease of the “others” and treatment was for the rich and not for the poor,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “We proved them wrong, and today we have 15 million people on treatment—15 million success stories.”

No longer is AIDS regarded as an irrelevant and far-off illness, but a disease that affects the international community and the world as a whole. Moreover, the international community has realized that in order to meet goals such as MDG 6, collaborative efforts need to be made not only horizontally–among and between various international organizations–but also vertically, including individuals, civil society organizations and NGOs across the world.

As the Millennium Development Goals transition into the Sustainable Development Goals this year, UN officials have argued that more aggressive steps need to be taken to continue the work achieved in slashing the AIDS epidemic and increasing HIV prevention.

“The world has delivered on halting and reversing the AIDS epidemic,” said Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. “Now we must commit to ending the AIDS epidemic as part of the Sustainable Development Goals [by 2030]”.

Ana Powell

Sources: UN, UNAIDS, UN Millennium Project
Photo: UN

Rwanda Calls to End Tied Aid from Donors
In 2011, Rwanda led a coalition of African countries through negotiations that pushed for ending tied aid from donor countries. Tied aid can increase the cost of a development project 15 to 30 percent and often delays the time it takes to receive aid.

Since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) end at the end of 2015, Rwanda has reiterated their position to untie aid for the new set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to take more effective action to achieve the new goals.

“We want to discuss how to finance SDGs but we want to change the way things are done because donors can promise us the money but you cannot use it because of the conditions and strings attached,” says Claver Gatete, Rwanda’s Finance and Economic Planning minister.

Rwanda has successfully achieved all of their MDGs except improving nutrition, making it one of five countries to do so in Africa. However, many of the issues surrounding tied aid in Rwanda deals with homosexual rights, which Rwanda argues is unfair to their culture.

The European Network on Debt and Development released a statement in 2013 that 20 percent of bilateral aid is tied. In return, the tied aid reduces spending power by 15 to 40 percent.

One way countries will tie aid is by controlling how a country spends the money, often forcing them to buy products such as food from the donor country. Therefore, instead of being able to purchase food from local markets in order to reach more of the population in a short time frame, the country may have to wait weeks or months to receive food items.

The World Bank and the IMF often tie their aid for Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) and the average loan comes with 67 conditions. SAPs can hurt a country economically because many of the conditions set force countries to lay off public workers and privatize more industries, resulting in a higher unemployment rate and public dissatisfaction.

By untying aid, it would increase its effectiveness and improve the rights of recipient countries to determine their own development course.

Goal 17 of the SDGs states, “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.” One way to improve implementation to achieve sustainable development is by allowing more autonomy for recipient countries to control their own development programs.

Donald Gering

Sources: All Africa, The Guardian, OECD, UN, UNA
Photo: Pixabay


With the closing of the Millennium Development Goals window and various summits regarding foreign policy, international development and global health reform, the way that we fund many projects and initiatives is changing. The introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals, expected this fall, will redirect funds and call for new investment strategies.

The Development Goals outline specific targets for improving health worldwide, which facilitates investment for major donors. With the anticipated adoption of the lengthier Sustainable Development Goals, there is concern over whether or not the lack of a very specific, short list of aims could complicate and subsequently stall funding. The broader targets group things like communicable diseases together, where as in the past diseases had been separate goals. However, the past focus on specific individual diseases did give way for some unpredictability. For example, with such focus individual countries would oftentimes focus on specific diseases, so when a primary benefactor experienced some political or economic instability, so did the projects that they were funding. The introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals will shift funds from aims such as HIV/AIDS prevention, maternal mortality and child mortality, which typically receive the most aid, to new aims more focused on sustainability.

As we transition into more of a sustainability mindset, consideration of where the funds are coming from is increasingly important. In the past, the majority of funds in developing countries for development projects have come from foreign actors. If the aim of these goals, in the long-run, is sustainability, it would make sense that we would focus on helping these countries finance the projects domestically. This would involve continuing some financial aid, but also providing additional and extensive educational aid, to give people both the means and the tools to make sustainable changes to improve the health of their nations.

We will continue to see more collaboration on how to come at the new set of goals in terms of financing. One topic to be frequently discussed is how to use existing funds in more useful ways to minimize the additional capital needed to combat the updated list of health and development problems. Ways that can help include developing and disseminating tools, creating policies that minimize corruption and streamlining fund allocation specifically to targeted development projects. The new set of goals calls for in-depth analysis of past development financing and projects as well as development of new strategies and policies, so that the international development community can ease into the transition of alleviating the newly designated most pressing matters in the international community. Financing global health is truly a dynamic issue.

Emma Dowd

Sources: Devex, Devex, Forbes, Humanosphere
Photo: World Affairs Council


While aid for global public health programs skyrocketed just after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were announced 15 years ago, aid has stalled in the past few years, according to a recent report by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

The MDGs, a set of eight anti-poverty goals with broad international backing, expire this year. Because of them, there have been significant reductions in child mortality and broad treatment of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in the developing world. However, donors must realize that continued funding is necessary to sustain the progress already achieved and make further improvements in public health internationally.

The report from the IHME found that there was an incredible surge in funding after the MDGs were announced, jumping from 5.4% prior to 2000 up to 11.4%. In the past 15 years, this growth in funding amounted to a total of around $228 billion invested in health-related causes. However, that growth has essentially stalled and, in some cases, reversed—from 2013 to 2014, total spending on health even decreased by 1.6%.

This trend can probably be attributed to waning enthusiasm for health-related aid once the initial excitement of the MDGs died down and their 2015 deadline draws to a close. Additionally, it could be a symptom of more cash-strapped governments seeking to trim their budgets after the 2008 global financial crisis.

While overall funding for health went down between 2013 and 2014, a few national donors did manage to increase their contributions, including the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan. Nongovernmental organizations also modestly increased their funding, including UNICEF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the African Development Bank.

Even modest changes in health aid funding would have a disproportionate impact on certain populations who have differing disease burdens. For example, 84% of funding for the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS comes from the United States. A small percentage decrease in funding for HIV/AIDS relief from the United States would have a much greater negative impact than a small percentage decrease from a smaller donor.

The IHME report, by describing flows of global health financing, reveals the need not only to maintain or increase aid but to diversify it also. Katie Leach-Kemon, a co-author of the study, said of HIV/AIDS funding that “diversifying the portfolio of financing sources for this area is crucial for safeguarding the progress made in combating the HIV epidemic.” Vulnerable populations would have access to more consistent aid if funding sources were spread more evenly across a wider variety of donors. That way, if funding trends continue to fluctuate, as they do in the report, those who typically rely on robust health aid programs, such as Ethiopia, Haiti and Kenya, will not find themselves cut off.

Health funding studies like the IHME report serve as excellent roadmaps that describe successes in global public health programs and reveal their shortcomings as well. Clearly, international initiatives with broad support, such as the MDGs, serve to jump start health aid. On the other hand, in the past five years, the incidence of tuberculosis was as high as 13% in some areas, HIV/AIDS as high as 20% and under-5 child mortality as high as 18%. Health aid has made huge strides in the past 15 years, but in order to continue reducing the global disease burden and improve the lives of people all over the world, funding has to be maintained.

– Derek Marion

Sources: Humanosphere, NPR, IHME, World Bank
Photo: Flickr