MDGsAt the Millennium Summit in 2000, history was made when a record number of world leaders gathered to adopt the U.N. Millennium Declaration, committing nations to cutting extreme poverty in half through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 and eradicate poverty through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Through the agreement, the MDGs target different dimensions of poverty including hunger, disease, insufficient shelter, gender inequality, global education and environmental sustainability.

With an expiration date of December 2015, the achievements made through the MDGs provide evidence that poverty can be eliminated worldwide by 2030.

MDG 1: Cut Extreme Hunger and Poverty in Half

Since 1990, the amount of people living on less than $1.25 per day decreased from 1.9 billion to 836 million in 2015. While extreme poverty was cut in half, extreme hunger narrowly missed the mark, dropping from 23.3 percent to 12.9 percent.

MDG 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

Primary School Enrollment has seen a slight rise, increasing from 83 percent in 2000 to 91 percent in 2015.

MDG 3: Eliminate Gender Disparity in Education and Empower Women

Since 1990, approximately two-thirds of developing countries have achieved gender unity. In Southern Asia, the primary school enrollment ratio favors girls over boys in 2015.

MDG 4: Reduce Child Mortality by Two-Thirds

The child mortality rate decreased from 12.7 million in 1990 to 6 million in 2015. In addition, the measles vaccine compared to 2000 covered almost 10 percent more children worldwide.

MDG 5: Reduce the Maternal Morality Rate by 75 Percent

Compared to 1990, the maternal mortality rate has been cut in half, narrowly missing the 75 percent benchmark.

MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases

Since 2000, the number of new HIV infections decreased by 40 percent, dropping from 3.5 million to 2.1 million in 2013.

MDG 7: Increase Environmental Sustainability

In 2010, the goal to increase access to clean water was achieved five years early. Since 1990, 2.6 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water.

MDG 8: Develop an Open Partnership for Development

Overseas development assistance from developed nations to developing countries increased 66 percent. With the expansion of technology, Internet infiltration increased significantly from 6 percent in 2000 to 43 percent in 2015.

Alexandra Korman

Sources: The Guardian
Photo: NaijaLog

diarrheal diseaseFollowing the increased efforts made to improve global health in the past 25 years, there have been incredible advances in the reduction of preventable deaths including diarrheal disease.

Nevertheless, children remain the most vulnerable demographic when it comes to being affected by preventable diseases. Notably, one in five children will die of avoidable causes before the age of 5.

The majority of these deaths are made up of children living in poor countries, and one of the leading causes is diarrheal disease. Nearly 90 percent of deaths caused by diarrheal disease occur in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Severe diarrhea leads to life-threatening dehydration, so even if the child survives the illness, subsequent issues such as infection, stunted growth, cognitive impairment and poor immune response to vaccines can lead to a lifetime of compromised health.

While improved sanitation and access to clean water may reduce cases of diarrheal disease, treatments are also necessary in cases where those tactics are not enough.

For example, oral rehydration solutions (ORS) (mixtures of salt, glucose, sucrose, citrates or molasses) work quickly and effectively to revive someone who is experiencing the negative symptoms of dehydration and the accompanying health complications.

The solutions have been widely used in response to cholera outbreaks as a low-cost way to handle dehydration and save lives. The medicine is inexpensive — packets of ORS run for about 10 cents a piece. Although they must be mixed with clean water, the benefits of ORS treatments significantly outweigh the risks.

Oral rehydration solutions have proven to be an effective remedy for dehydration caused by diarrheal disease, and implementing them could dramatically improve the life expectancy of children living in poverty.

Furthermore, the simple administration of the medication does not require a doctor, and families could relieve a child showing symptoms without a trip to the hospital. Not only is this convenient, but the measure could prevent the symptoms from becoming life-threatening.

Despite the solutions being cost-effective for the medical conditions found frequently in poor countries, they are not yet easy to obtain. Recent measures have been taken by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to expand the availability of ORS in countries that would benefit from these treatments.

There is hope that through child health policy changes and increased funding, oral rehydration solutions will help significantly reduce childhood deaths from diarrheal disease and other preventable illnesses.

Brittney Dimond

Sources: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Rehydration Project
Photo: Flickr

Millennium Development Goals
What are the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and how far are we from reaching them?

The Millennium Development Goals are a blueprint to end global poverty and include eight international development goals. All 189 United Nations agreed to achieve the eight goals by 2015. Here is a breakdown of the eight goals:

1. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

The target is to halve the population living in extreme poverty. We have made a huge progress toward this goal to end extreme poverty. In 2010, about 700 million fewer people lived in extreme poverty than in 1990. Despite major progress, one in eight still go to bed hungry.

2. To achieve universal primary education.

The target is to ensure that children everywhere, boys and girls, can complete full courses of primary schooling. In 2011, 57 million were out of school, which is lower than the 102 million of school in 2000. The highest rates of illiteracy occur in Sub-Saharan Africa and more effort needs to be focused on this region to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

3. To promote gender equality and empower women.

The goal is to empower women and promote gender equality. Forty out of 100 wage-earning job are held by women. In North Africa, the percentage of women in the parliament grew significantly from three percent to 17.6 percent from 2000 to 2013. However, the world average share of women in national parliament was only just over 20 percent.

4. To reduce child mortality. 

The goal is to reduce by two-thirds, the under 5-years-old morality rate, from 93 of every 1000 to 31 of every 1000 by the year of 2015. In Sub-Sarah Africa, major progress has been achieved. The under 5-years-old morality rate drops from 178 of every 1000 to 109. Even though we achieve huge success, we need to double the effort to meet the requirement.

5. To improve maternal health.

The goal is to reduce by three-fourths the maternal mortality ratio and ensure universal health care for pregnant women. In Eastern Asia, North Africa and Southern Asia, the maternal mortality has dropped by two-thirds. Even though the maternal mortality ratio in Sub-Africa dropped from 850 in 1990 to 500 in 2010, there is still big room to improve.

6. To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

There are good news in the battle against HIV/AIDS and malaria. In 2011, 230,000 fewer children under age 15 were infected with HIV than in 2001. More than two thirds of the new infected are in Sub-Saharan Africa. There is still lack of knowledge of HIV/AIDS and necessary condom use at last high-risk sex.

7. To ensure environment sustainability.

The target is to integrate the principles of sustainable development into nations’ polices.  However, the CO2 emissions have increased, and marine fish stock has been exploited and more species are facing extinction.

8. To develop a global partnership for development.

The developed countries have the obligation to help less developed countries to reach environment sustainability by sharing research information and providing modern infrastructure.

There is huge success along the way, but it is far from meeting the targets. There is still 1.52 years to go until 2015 and we should keep up our efforts.

– Jing Xu


Sources: UNDP, WHO, UN Millennium Project
Photo: The Road to the Horizon