Millennium Development Goal

Women Are Heroes

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The power of the photograph and film is evident here.
From this year’s TED Prize winner, JR.
Engaging, emotional, inspiring.
Watch it now.

The 10 City Bridge Run aims to influence child mortality through a creative process of inquiry. This is a human challenge- child mortality. Money and aid are important, as is institutional involvement. I believe that ultimately what the collective global citizenry do matters most.

Together, we can influencing the outcome of Millennium Development Goal 4 by building a bridge to the G20. The G20 has the political will to make global change happen very quickly, if it chooses to do so. But to do so requires effort and participation from us.

Help us to build the bridge. Thanks for the inspiration JR!

Winning the war against child mortality

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The foundation's logo

The Loveable and Avuncular Hans Rosling returns to give another outstanding TED Talk about how we are winning the war against child mortality.

Hans is a brilliant communicator and makes the complex simple. This 15 minute is worth watch to move beyond theory and understand how progress has been made.

21 Days To Go: 8 MDG. MDG 7- Environmental Sustainability

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The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...
Our home

Working toward the start of the G20 Summit in Seoul when I will set of with the first steps of the 10 City Bridge Run. 240 km ahead of me across 10 cities in 10 countries within the space of one month.

Previously on this blog I looked at Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 1 through 6, and then made a summary of what looks to be a massive deficit in achieving this seemingly impossible objective. Can it be done, and does it matter?

I was fortunate to attend a City of Sydney presentation on the MDG last week which gave good insights to understanding the MDG in perspective which I made mention of in this blog post.

Continuing this list of MDG, today I turn to MDG 7: Ensuring Environmental Sustainability. This is one MDG which is not looking like being addressed successfully. It covers many broad areas that are affected by bigger sustainability issues.

This MDG has four targets:

  1. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources
  2. Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
  3. Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
  4. By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers

Here are comments from the United Nations on progress and challenges:

  • The rate of deforestation shows signs of decreasing, but is still alarmingly high
  • A decisive response to climate change is urgently needed
  • The world has missed the 2010 target for biodiversity conservation, with potentially grave consequences
  • Key habitats for threatened species are not being adequately protected
  • The number of species facing extinction is growing by the day, especially in developing countries
  • Overexploitation of global fisheries has stabilized, but steep challenges remain to ensure their sustainability
  • Safe water supply remains a challenge in many parts of the world
  • With half the population of developing regions without sanitation, the 2015 target appears to be out of reach
  • Disparities in urban and rural sanitation coverage remain daunting
  • Improvements in sanitation are bypassing the poor
  • Slum improvements, though considerable, are failing to keep pace with the growing ranks of the urban poor
  • Slum prevalence remains high in sub-Saharan Africa and increases in countries affected by conflict

Is it just me, or does it astound you too due to the following statistics. How can it be that in our world of technology, convenience and accessible luxury that this should be the case? Go figure! Next time you get delayed standing waiting for your skim-soy-decaf-latte, count yourself lucky and enjoy the privilege of knowing at the end of the queue is anything you care to order:

  • 2.6 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines.
  • The world has missed the 2010 target for biodiversity conservation. Based on current trends, the loss of species will continue throughout this century.
  • Slum improvements are failing to keep pace with the growing number of urban poor. The absolute number of slum dwellers keeps rising.

 

A Different Perspective

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The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis an...
The Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Yesterday I posted a blog titled: Did the Government Let Us Down? where I questioned claims that had been made that not enough had been given by own government toward the Global Fund which contributes towards the eradication of diseases: in particular HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB.

I was asking: how much money is ‘enough’?

Outcomes from the United Nations Donor Meeting held on 4-5 October sparked this discussion. The meeting announced that US$11.7 billion had been pledged in new funding over the next three years to support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This in fact represents the largest-ever pledge for the collective effort to fight the three pandemics and will allow the Global Fund to further support countries as they work to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) related to health.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commented in a more positive manner from the earlier claims which promoted my blog yesterday. He said:

At a time when so many Governments are tightening their belts at home, these commitments send a powerful message: It shows how seriously world leaders want to do the right thing beyond their borders, too.

What can we make of this? Two different claims, with the United Nations Secretary-General applauding this initiative. The esteemed members of the MDG Advocacy Group have shown support for what they describe as “the ample replenishment of the Global Fund”. The MDG Advocacy Group summarised it like this:

We can recommend no better and more timely investment on the planet to support the Millennium Development Goals.

That sounds like a call-to-action to build bridges with all the time we have available between now and 2015. 21 days to go before I start running (no more false starts!). Please step up and do what you can to influence extreme poverty. You might support this initiative with a $24 sponsorship, or from the time I commence running submit a photograph of a human bridge to be presented as a pictorial petition.

Any other ideas worth sharing? Let’s hear them!

Half the world’s population is at risk of malaria (3 Days to Go) : 8 MDG.

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Today with three days to go, the focus is on Millennium Development Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Disease. The United Nations has set three targets for this Millennium Development Goal:

  • Halt and begin to reverse, by 2015, the spread of HIV/AIDS
  • Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it
  • Halt and begin to reverse, by 2015, the incidence of malaria and other major diseases

One of the Outcomes for the 10 City Bridge Run is to invest $24,000 in anti-malaria technology through the distribution of 10,000 mosquito nets. The ability to create leverage in order to achieve this will only come with the participation of sponsorship. Only with sponsorship is it possible to achieve the 10 City Bridge Run.

Remarks from the UN are sobering and need no further explanation. This is a serious and tragic situation through the prevalence of these infectious diseases.

  • Every day over 7,400 people are infected with HIV and 5,500 die from AIDS- related illnesses. HIV remains the leading cause of death among reproductive-age women worldwide.
  • An estimated 33.4 million people were living with HIV in 2008, two thirds of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Access to HIV treatment in low- and middle-income countries increased ten-fold over a span of just five years.
  • Malaria kills a child in the world every 45 seconds. Close to 90 per cent of malaria deaths occur in Africa, where it accounts for a fifth of childhood mortality.
  • 1.8 million people died from tuberculosis in 2008, about 500,000 of whom were HIV-positive.

 

 

 

Benjamin

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Matt with Benjamin

 

This morning I met Benjamin for the first time. He is less than 20 days old and the son of good friends Dave and Janet. Everyone is happy and healthy. Benjamin is a beautiful baby.

Dave is a doctor, and I took some time to ask him about how things in his life have changed since the arrival of Benjamin. We also talked about the distinction between how wonderful medical care is in Australia, compared with what might be expected in what is referred to as a ‘developing country’.

How fortunate we are to experience almost very low child mortality and excellent maternal health. Dave was explaining how easy and cheap it would be to save so many life through simple interventions relating to hydration and hygiene. Simple things we take so much for granted that we don’t even think twice.

During the week a friend related a story where apparently in parts of Sudan the prevalence of child mortality was so high that new born babies are not given names.

I am thankful for Dave and Janet that things are different for Benjamin. How long will it be before child mortality and maternal health become taken for granted by almost everyone on earth?

Four Days to Go! 8 MDG: MDG 5: Improve Maternal Health

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Merlin maternal health clinic in Afghanistan
Merlin maternal health clinic in Afghanistan

AT only 15 days old, Louis Paul Coutts-Trotter carries the weight of a nation. He’s the son of ALP Member for Sydney Tanya Plibersek. Welcome to a wonderful world Louis!

  • More than 350,000 women die annually from complications during pregnancy or childbirth, almost all of them — 99 per cent — in developing countries.
  • The maternal mortality rate is declining only slowly, even though the vast majority of deaths are avoidable.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, a woman’s maternal mortality risk is 1 in 30, compared to 1 in 5,600 in developed regions.
  • Every year, more than 1 million children are left motherless. Children who have lost their mothers are up to 10 times more likely to die prematurely than those who have not.

Today with only four days until the punishing task of running 10 sub-marathons across the globe inside of 30 days we turn to look at the fifth Millennium Development Goal- Improving Maternal Health.

The United Nations (UN) has two targets to meet this goal:

  • Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio
  • Achieve universal access to reproductive health

So, what does the UN have to say about progress? Here are some comments directly from the UN:

  • Most maternal deaths could be avoided
  • Giving birth is especially risky in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where most women deliver without skilled care
  • The rural-urban gap in skilled care during childbirth has narrowed
  • More women are receiving antenatal care
  • Inequalities in care during pregnancy are striking
  • Only one in three rural women in developing regions receive the recommended care during pregnancy
  • Progress has stalled in reducing the number of teenage pregnancies, putting more young mothers at risk
  • Poverty and lack of education perpetuate high adolescent birth rates
  • Progress in expanding the use of contraceptives by women has slowed
  • Use of contraception is lowest among the poorest women and those with no education
  • Inadequate funding for family planning is a major failure in fulfilling commitments to improving women’s reproductive health

Inequalities in care during pregnancy are striking. That is a strong choice of words from the UN. That is a concern.

Maternal mortality is declining, but more needs to be done. This report from the UN gives a good visual description of where the gap lies through use of comparative graphs. Take a look.

Don’t we all wish that every child and mother could enjoy the health and opportunity like Louis and Tanya.

(Please play Six Bridges of Separation- forward this to someone you know and see how long it takes to get to Tanya Plibersek. I’ll send out a blog once I hear back from her to let you know how long it took! Are we really that connected?!)

 

 

 

The Near Bank of the Bridge: Wrap up from New York

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TEHRAN. With the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ah...
Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

So what came out of the United Nations High-Level Summit to discuss the Millennium Development Goals late last month?

The irony of spending a lot of money for people to gather together and talk about poverty is something I am still thinking about…

The drama and grandiose of visiting the United Nations in New York must be appealing. Certainly this was reflected in Meredith Burgmann’s comments in an Op-Ed published in the Sydney Morning Herald.  Meredith Burgmann, a former NSW ALP MP, is president of the Australian Council for International Development, and was part of the Australian delegation to the UN Conference on the Millennium Development Goals.

Disappointing progress in many areas.
Many failed promises blamed on the global financial crisis.
The meeting was overshadowed by Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, alleging the September 11 attacks were an American conspiracy in a separate meeting a few days after the Conference.

The New York Conference marks the beginning of a bridge I am defining for the 10 City Bridge Run.
It is the near bank.
Where we cross first.

The far bank defining the other side of the bridge is the G20 Summit.
Another important meeting of institutional and national leaders.
The G20 describes itself as the premier forum for international economic cooperation: “Our goal is to strengthen the global financial system and build a global economy rooted in sustainable growth and prosperity for all”.

The span, the bit in between, is all of us. All of us. Our global village.
I contend that what happens between us is as important as what happens at the two institutional meetings.
That is what the 1o City Bridge Run is about.
It is all about you, and me, and everyone else. We are responsible.

Meredith made an interesting comment about the MDG 3 which I am focusing on today:

One of my particular passions – the third goal, which promises to promote gender equality and empower women – is hardly mentioned. Maternal deaths seem to be important but not the empowerment of women. Tucked away in a side report was the astonishing information that of the nine countries that still have no women in parliament, six were in the Pacific. The percentage of women in Pacific parliaments is 2.9 per cent and even the next worst, the Middle East, has 12 per cent. It is a total disgrace and unless Australia begins to use its influence with the male leaderships of these countries, nothing will change.

Meredith wove the importance of how there is interplay between the MDG:

Rudd is particularly concerned with goals four and five, which deal with maternal health and child mortality. Improvement in maternal death rates has slowed dramatically. More than 500,000 women die each year of pregnancy-related causes. Australia announces that it is part of a newly launched public/private global alliance with the US, Britain, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to meet goals four and five and pledges $1.6 billion to this alliance. Rudd also promises to allocate $5 billion to education, $1.8 billion to food security and $1.2 billion for action on climate change over the next five years.

Check her article out here.
It is interesting that the embedded video is about Australian domestic political point-scoring. Is that a tacit commentary in itself on the importance and impact this conference had on a broader level back home in Australia? Interesting to note that many of my friends still have no idea of what an ‘MDG’ actually is. I think we will all know in 2015, although will this be for the right reasons?

6 Days to Go. 8 MDG: MDG 3- Promote Gender Equity and Empower Women

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Young women in preparing manioc bread or Fufu....
Young women in preparing manioc bread

Spotlight on gender equity and empowerment of women today.

Yesterday, my good friend Tiffany sent me through a video The Girl Effect: The Clock is Ticking. Worth a look- go on, check it out and I will wait here until you return.

So how was it?

In the Millennium Development Goal (MDG), the United Nations (UN) have set a target to Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015. From the video and thinking about this, already the symbiotic relationship between these MDG should be more clear. These are not stand alone stove-piped objectives.

So why should I care? This year I am also an Ambassador for the White Ribbon Foundation which looks at Australian men stepping up to end violence against women. Earlier this year, another friend of mine April, informed me about the atrocious prevalence of rape and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DROC). Rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war and control. Statistics so high that they top the world. Nothing to boast about.

As an Ambassador of the White Ribbon Foundation, I would hope that these statistics are seen as ugly as they are, and that through this we men can reflect this back into our own communities and behaviours. If it is not ok for us to put up with violence against women here in Australia, why should it be any different in DROC? We should be outraged!

Back to what the UN have to say about this MDG 3:

  • For girls in some regions, education remains elusive
  • Poverty is a major barrier to education, especially among older girls
  • In every developing region except the Commonwealth of Independent States, men outnumber women in paid employment
  • Women are largely relegated to more vulnerable forms of employment
  • Women are over-represented in informal employment, with its lack of benefits and security
  • Top-level jobs still go to men — to an overwhelming degree
  • Women are slowly rising to political power, but mainly when boosted by quotas and other special measures

So what should we make of this? It would seem that there is an opportunity to advance this forward through much of the excellent advocacy and game changing approaches through microfinance groups by organisations like the IWDA.

The video presents an opportunity. Can we harness this? And when will we consider those women and girls subjected to appalling conditions of rape and sexual violence as neighbours within our broader global village, the global ‘dongnae’ (Korean for village)?

Please consider sponsoring the 10 City Bridge Run. Please sponsor $24 to make this journey possible.

The Girl Effect: The Clock is Ticking

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My friend Tiffany sent me a wonderful link from The Girl Effect called The Clock is Ticking.

Watch it for yourself- it is its own explanation.

Tomorrow I will put focus on Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 3: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015 . Let’s see what the assessment is from the United Nations on MDG 3. So far the scorecard looking at MDG 1 and 2 is not good for a complete successful achievement of the MDG.

This is why a focus on child mortality and women is so important. So many other factors are woven into the same solution. Hans Rosling explains this indirectly in this TED video in an earlier blog I recorded here.

The most productive 50 million ways to influence extreme poverty are primed ready to be enlisted in the fight. It is a resource and an opportunity that won’t stand still- it sits on a knife edge of time to be saved or exploited by the environment. Is there anything we can do to influence this situation?