‘2015 and Beyond’

Ana P. Santos
With the 2015 deadline fast approaching, health experts are already making plans to replicate and sustain the progress made over the last 13 years

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia With less than 1,000 days until the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 2015 deadline, government officials and health experts are scrambling to assess progress on the commitment made 13 years ago to reduce extreme poverty and close in on health and development inequities.

The report  “Accountability for Maternal, Newborn & Child Survival: The 2013 Update,” was launched at the Women Deliver global maternal health conference in Malaysia. The report outlined 11 core indicators of maternal and child health and mortality in 75 countries that account for over 95% of maternal and child deaths.

Read the full report here

According to the report, the fastest reduction in poverty in human history took place over the last 13 years, with significant reductions made in the following areas:

  • Half a billion fewer people living below an international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.
  • Deaths from malaria have fallen by one quarter.
  • Child death rates have fallen by more than 30%, with about three million children’s lives saved each year compared to 2000.  Deaths among children under five years of age dropped from nearly 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011.
  • The number of women who die each year from pregnancy or childbirth related complications dropped from 543,000 in 1990 to 287,000 in 2010.

Overall, the global levels of maternal and child mortality are declining. Rwanda, Botswana and Cambodia were included among the top 5 countries (among the 75 countries included in the report) to have significantly reduced mortality since 2000.

However, there are other areas where progress is lagging, specifically:

  • Slow progress in improving maternal and child mortality in some countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where fertility levels typically remain high.
  • Newborn deaths now account for 40% or more of all child deaths in 35 of the Countdown countries.
  • Unacceptably high levels of stunting, a form of growth failure resulting from chronic under nutrition, in virtually all of the 75 Countdown countries.
  • High levels of fertility and unmet need for family planning highlight the need to broaden access to contraception. In a separate report made by the US-based reproductive health research agency Guttmacher Institute, an estimated 222 million women in the developing world have an unmet need for contraception; these women do not want to get pregnant but are not using a modern contraceptive method.

“What we need to do now is look at the demographic gap,” said Dr. Joy Lawn of the London School of Medicine. “More than half of maternal and child deaths are in Africa; this is also where 12 percent of the world’s population live.”

Lawn added that there is a need to examine the smaller details that maybe overshadowed by advances made on the higher level. “There are 30 countries that have reduced their child mortality rate (under 5 years of age), but we see that there are about 1 million deaths that occur within the first month of life.”

The report cited that child deaths during the newborn period have increased and the rate of progress in reducing newborn deaths has been slower compared to the rate of progress made in reducing mortality among older children.

The Countdown to 2015 report was produced by academics and health professionals from Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNFPA, Family Care International, Save the Children, in collaboration with other institutions from around the world.

Post 2015: From reducing poverty to ending it

With the 2015 deadline fast approaching, health experts are already making plans to replicate and sustain the progress made over the last 13 years while also looking at the gaps that need to be filled.

The Post-2015 Development Agenda prepared by a 27-member global panel established last year was presented to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.  The report remained optimistic and declared that this could be the first generation to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.

Read the full Post-2015 Development Agenda report here:

However, it noted that in order to do so, development goals and interventions should focus on reaching the poorest and most excluded people and promote sustainable patterns of consumption and development.

The report also noted the previous MDGs were silent on mitigating climate change and cited the effects of climate change as a gap that needs to be urgently addressed.

The panel provided recommendations on advancing the development framework beyond 2015, citing five transformative shifts that focused on inclusiveness, sustainable development, economic transformation and job creation, peace and global partnerships. – Rappler.com

Walking man image via Shutterstock 

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