Editorials

Health for all by the year 2000?

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7053.316 (Published 10 August 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:316
  1. Staffan Bergstrom,
  2. Pascoal Mocumbi
  1. Professor Division of International Health Care Research, Karolinska Institute, S-17177 Stockholm, Sweden
  2. Prime minister, Mozambique

    No, and not for many generations without concrete and credible actions to alleviate poverty

    “No child in the world will go to bed hungry by the year 2000.” This was one of the final statements at the closing of the Food Security Conference in Rome in 1974. According to the United Nations Development Programme, hunger now prevails among at least a quarter of the world's inhabitants.1 Every day there are 30 000-40 000 child deaths in the world, most of these from diseases related to malnutrition.2 This means that there are 12 to 14 million child deaths associated with hunger each year. Can we expect this figure to have improved by the year 2000?

    The well known phrase “Health for all by the year 2000” was coined at the United Nations Alma Ata conference in 1978. Only four years are left for hunger and disease to be defeated. Objectives are natural when setting targets and are often linked to a change of century or to a historically important date. But what is the use of wishful thinking far away from the bitter reality of widespread poverty? And what are the risks of indulging in lip service—some would call it claptrap—reflected in statements of the kind …

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