Our lessons on accountability and transparency can help to move us forward not only to accelerate progress on maternal, newborn, and child health, but also on the Millennium Development Goals. They will help us build a stronger, more effective partnership beyond 2015.
Since their launch in 2000, the global community has made important progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and improved the lives of many. Millions of girls and boys have had the opportunity to attend school, the burden of illness and diseases such as malaria and HIV/ AIDS has been eased through important global interventions, and fewer people now live in extreme poverty. While global progress has been uneven, and much remains to be done, we should not forget the achievements that we have made together.
America and our partners have more than doubled the number of people who get AIDS drugs. We’ll soon cut maternal mortality by a quarter. How? The answer may surprise you.
When I became Secretary of State, I asked our diplomats and development experts: “How can we do better?” I could see our strengths, including tens of thousands of public servants who get up every day thinking about how to advance America’s interests and promote our values around the world. At the same time, I could also see areas where we could be stronger partners, and where we could do more to get the most out of every hour of effort and dollar of funding. I saw it in our diplomacy, in our development efforts—and in our global health work.
Last year, at a rural health clinic in Rwanda, I watched women queuing nervously for pregnancy tests and jumping for joy when they received the results. They were joyous because the test was negative. These women knew they would not have to risk their lives by having a baby because of an unintended pregnancy.
The shocking reality is that pregnancy and childbirth continue to be a death sentence for a third of a million girls and women in the developing world every year. In Afghanistan, a girl is more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than she is to attend secondary school.
Giving women access to family planning so they can decide whether, when and how many children they have, is one of the most effective ways to tackle the scandal of maternal death that afflicts the world’s poorest women.
If someone were to ask me what the defining issue of our time was, I would answer the threat of climate change. Climate change undermines the full enjoyment of basic human rights. It is an issue that should have particular resonance for the global health community, given the potential scale of adverse impacts that the human population is facing, and the diffuse and unequal distribution of those impacts.
Zuebeyde Horus is a young woman with an intellectual disability from Turkey, and a Special Olympics athlete. Like most young adults, she leads an active and healthy life. Her family and friends join in cheering her achievements in sport, just as they would any typically developing peer. But, neither she nor her family could possibly have been prepared for the shock of her most recent visit to a Special Olympics event. There, Zuebeyde was invited to the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes venue for a checkup with highly trained physicians and health educators. Away from the sun of the athletic competitions, Zuebeyde Horus was diagnosed with atrioventricular septal defect, a condition that causes holes between the various chambers and valves of the heart: She had no idea that she had lived her entire life with a condition that easily could have killed her.