The health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have enormous potential in accelerating progress across all the MDGs. While achievements in some areas have been promising, great effort is still necessary to reach all targets. Public-privatesector collaboration can play a catalytic role. The "Every Woman Every Child" effort and the MDG Advocacy Group, both developed under the auspices of the UN Secretary General, are illustrative examples of such collaboration.
These initiatives reach out to key target groups with untapped potential.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to health have enormous potential as an engine for progress across all the MDGs.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), great progress has been made in health-related MDGs as of May 2011. Fewer children are dying; annual global deaths of children under five years old fell from 12.4 million in 1990 to 8.1 million in 2009. More women get skilled help during childbirth, and maternal deaths have dropped from approximately 500,000 in 1990 to 350,000 in 2009. New HIV infections have declined by 17% from 2001 to 2009, existing cases of Tuberculosis are also declining, and more people have safe drinking water.
While all these achievements are promising, great efforts are still necessary to reach all targets by 2015. Even though some countries have made spectacular improvements in achieving health-related targets, others are falling behind. Often, the countries making the least progress are those affected by high levels of HIV/AIDS, economic hardship, or conflict.
The "Every Woman Every Child" effort–focusing on MDG 4 and 5, "Reduce Child Mortality" and "Improve Maternal Health"–was developed under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General and was launched during the MDG Summit in September 2010. This innovative initiative provides a roadmap for how to meet the targets set by the international community.
"Every Woman Every Child" is a public health project aimed at reducing the number of women dying from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. The goal is to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015.
It mobilizes international and local actions by governments, multilaterals, civil society and other stakeholders to address problems, which women and children are facing around the world.
Three broad work streams for the 2011-2015 period have emerged related to implementation.
The first is implementation work at the country and global level. Essentially, this means translating, financing, policy and service delivery commitments into real action and adding value through innovation. For example, Cambodia will develop a new policy to ensure availability of emergency obstetric care at the district level. Concurrently, the Central African Republic has committed itself to increasing its health sector spending to 15% of its budget (and 30% of the public health budget will be devoted to maternal and children's health initiatives).
The second work stream fosters greater accountability for resources and results. Ten recommendations have been defined to help ensure that pledges are honored and resources spent in the most effective way to save lives.
Finally, the last stream focuses on building further momentum among world leaders and global stakeholders. As chair of the recent G8 summit, Canada has made maternal, newborn and child health a priority.
Realizing the importance of public-private sector collaboration, the Secretary General set up the MDGs Advocacy Group in the true spirit of collaboration and with a view to pool expertise from various members. The Group is actively engaged in promoting the achievement of the MDGs. The group is co-chaired by two Heads of State/Governments and 220 members, which include prominent individuals from the private, public, policy, and philanthropic sectors.
Each member of the MDG advocacy group is encouraged to advocate on behalf of at least one of the MDG initiatives. The initiatives are grouped into two clusters: 1) Food Security and Sustainable Growth, and 2) Education and Health.
Gender equality and global partnerships for development relate to both clusters. Through these initiatives, the MDG Advocates aim to generate further momentum towards the success of the MDGs.
The Action Plan tackles many initiatives regarding health-related MDGs. For example, in maternal health and child mortality, the Advocates have dedicated themselves to two specific and concrete actions. They are: 1) Increasing the distribution of family planning commodities and focusing efforts to increase the number of midwives and health workers, and 2) Decreasing child mortality by focusing on key drivers that account for almost 80% of child deaths.
Improving maternal and children's health is critically important to every area of human development, and directly impacts our success in achieving all MDGs. Healthy women and children lead to healthy societies, which in turn create successful economies and prosperity for their people. The health of women and children is the cornerstone of a functional public health system.
Targeted initiatives such as "Every Woman Every Child" and interventions from the MDG Advocates can yield excellent results. The public-private sector collaboration can play a catalytic role in reaching MDG 4 and 5, including through outreach to key target groups of new actors with untapped potential (e.g. social media leaders, business leaders, and parliamentarians). In fact, this very publication on global health and diplomacy, wherein governments, corporations and foundations from around the world commit to women's health, provides an important platform for further collaboration.