22 December 2003
UN's goal to halve world poverty “unlikely to be met”
The international community needs to change tack if it is to meet the UN's Millennium Development Goals for development of poorer countries by 2015, according to a new book.
The book, Targeting Development, edited by Professor Richard Black and Dr Howard White of the
University of Sussex, shows how on current trends, many of the goals are unlikely to be met. For example:
- On poverty, the aim is to halve world poverty by 2015, but new estimates suggest the world is on track to achieve only 40-60 per cent of this target.
- On education, the major goal is universal primary enrolment of children by 2015, but current progress would need to double for this target to be met.
- On health, the main goal is a two-thirds reduction in under-five mortality rates, but at present rates, the reduction will be much less - around one quarter of the planned rate of reduction.
- On HIV/AIDS, little or no progress has been achieved in reversing the HIV/AIDS pandemic worldwide, although some countries do represent success stories.
Dr White said: "It is shocking to realise that in 2000, more than 10 million children under the age of five died, mostly from preventable diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, measles, malaria, HIV/AIDS and malnutrition. In Africa, two million infants die each year, and as many again before they reach the age of five. They would make a line of dead children that would stretch the entire length of the United Kingdom. The figure has not changed in over two decades."
Contributors to the book argue that lack of progress in Africa and Central and Eastern Europe in particular reflects the weaker economies of these regions compared to Asia and Latin America. However, one key question is whether improvements could be achieved by a commitment of aid expenditure, or whether they are dependent on these regions achieving broader economic growth.
Professor Black commented: "With better prioritisation of health expenditure, including money spent on preventive measures such as promoting breast-feeding, public health campaigns and an emphasis on female education, it is possible to make a difference to health indicators, including in Africa. It is also possible to replicate success stories in the treatment of HIV/AIDS in some African countries. "With political commitment, a clear policy focus and a modest allocation or re-allocation of resources, many of the goals are still achievable by 2015."
Notes for editors
Targeting Development: Critical Perspectives on the Millennium Development Goals is published by Routledge, and will be launched at the Overseas Development Institute in London on January 5, 2004 1.00-2.30pm. www.odi.org
For further information, contact: Professor Richard Black, email@example.com, on 07867 976031 (please note that Dr Black will be in the US until January 2), or Dr Howard White: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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