A new report warns unless the international community acts now, there’s a grave risk the world won’t meet international targets to reduce the number of people dying of disease.
The Global Monitoring Report 2005: From Consensus to Momentum also warns Sub-Saharan Africa is in danger of not meeting any of the Millennium Development Goals –international targets to reduce poverty, disease and illiteracy by the year 2015.
The report, a joint effort by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, makes it clear this year is a crucial year to build momentum to reach the Millennium Development Goals – which were agreed upon by the international community at a UN meeting in 2000.
The World Bank’s Zia Qureshi, the report’s lead author, says the consequences of not meeting the goals are real, immediate and tragic.
“Every week, 200,000 children under 5 die of disease,” Qureshi says.
“Every week, 10,000 women die giving birth. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, two million people will die this year of AIDS. More than 100 million children in developing countries are not in school.”
“So if you go behind the cold statistics on the MDGs, you see real people are affected by lack of progress toward these goals.”
While progress toward meeting the goals has been slow and uneven, there is the prospect of meeting the first goal--to halve the incidence of extreme poverty and hunger by 2015—at the global level. The report says East Asia has already achieved the poverty reduction goal, due to sustained strong growth in China. All other regions are likely to meet the goal or come close – with the one exception – Sub-Saharan Africa.
However the report warns it is unlikely the health goals will be achieved. At present, there’s little hope of achieving the target reductions in maternal and child mortality or reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015.
Prospects are brighter in education – but the report warns in three of the six developing regions of the world the pace of progress is too slow to attain the goal of universal primary education for boys and girls.
Africa Off Track
Sub-Saharan Africa is the one region in the world singled out as unlikely to meet any of the goals and the region facing the toughest challenge to speed up progress. In the area of health alone, the report says Sub-Saharan Africa needs to triple its health workforce – adding one million – by the year 2015.
The region’s current growth rate would have to almost double in the next decade—to around 7%--for Sub-Saharan Africa to achieve the poverty reduction goal.
“Yet, providing more aid is a necessary but not sufficient condition for improved prospects for Sub-Saharan Africa to achieve these goals,” Qureshi says.
Lifting Their Game
The report calls on both developing and developed countries to give greater focus to meeting the goals.
“There needs to be a substantial increase in aid, but these countries also need to do better in terms of their own policies and governance.” Qureshi says. And developed countries must live up to the promises they made at Monterrey in 2000.
Aid is not the only answer. Qureshi is quick to re-emphasize the report’s call for dual actions.
“Two actions are critical. One is the provision of more and better aid and the second is an ambitious and timely outcome to the Doha Round of Trade Negotiations to expand markets for the exports of developing countries.
“So trade and aid are critical areas for rapid action,” he says.
Five Point Plan
With just a decade left to go, the report outlines a five point agenda designed to generate momentum and broaden progress toward meeting the MDGs.
The five point agenda includes:
- Ensuring development efforts are country-owned – ambitious country owned and led poverty reduction strategies are needed to achieve progress towards the MDGs.
- Improving the environment for growth – by strengthening fiscal management and governance, easing constraints on business and strengthening economic infrastructure
- Scaling up human development services – by rapidly increasing the supply of skilled workers in health and education, providing more financing that is flexible and predictable, and strengthening institutional capacities
- Dismantling barriers to trade – in particular implementing major reforms to agricultural trade policies -- and substantially increasing “aid for trade”
- Doubling development aid in the next five years and improving the quality of aid and delivery.
An Urgent Message
While the report describes the prospects of achieving several of the MDGs as “daunting,” it does say rapid progress is possible.
Vietnam provides a striking example of what a decade can bring. It managed to reduce poverty from 51% in 1990 to 14% in 2002.
The success of the better performing regions and countries serves as grounds for hope for others and as an urgent reminder to the international community that action is needed to achieve results.
“Unless there is early and tangible action on the part of the international community to accelerate progress, the Millennium Development Goals will be seriously jeopardized. And in Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, all of the goals will be missed,” the report concludes.