Millennium development goals will not be met until 2282BMJ 2007; 335 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39273.409132.DB (Published 12 July 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:67
European donor governments are failing to provide the funding needed to improve health in poor countries to achieve the health millennium development goals (MDGs), according to a report from Action for Global Health launched this week at the House of Commons.
Gordon Brown's government was urged to show leadership by immediately doubling aid for health.
Christine McCafferty MP, chairwoman of the all party parliamentary group on population, development, and reproductive health, said that recent research showed that at the current rate of progress the goals in sub-Saharan Africa will not be met until 2282—that is, 275 years from now—rather than the target date of 2015.
Three of the eight goals relate specifically to improving the health of people in poor countries. They focus on reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; and combating HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, and other diseases.
The report, based on a review of funding allocated to health aid by Action for Global Health, a consortium of European health charities, highlights the inadequate progress achieved on the health goals; the funding challenges that need to be overcome to ensure that they can be met; and the role that the United Kingdom and other European countries need to play to meet the goals.
This month, July 2007, marks the mid-point of the millennium development goals—a set of time bound targets agreed by world leaders in 2000 that aim to improve health and reduce poverty in poor countries by 2015.
The report warns, “Halfway towards the deadline for meeting these goals, however, progress is well behind schedule. Of greatest concern are the health related MDGs, which are those furthest from being realised by 2015.”
Among the targets failing to be met is child mortality: “Sub-Saharan Africa is currently trailing behind other regions of the world, with almost one in five children dying before the age of five.”
The report shows that Europe is failing in its promise to allocate 0.7% of gross national income to official development aid, and also failing to spend the recommended 0.1% of gross national income on aid for health, resulting in large inequalities between health in European and developing countries. A stark reminder of this is that the average life expectancy of a person born in Italy is 81 years, compared with 45 years for someone born in Nigeria.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “We are now halfway to the target date of 2015, when the MDGs need to be achieved. At this stage the money and the systems were supposed to be in place to allow health to improve enough to meet the targets, but are they? It appears that many governments, north and south, have forgotten what they promised or have used a change of leadership to get out of their commitments.”
The report, Health Warning: Why Europe Must Act Now to Rescue the Health MDGs, is available at www.actionforglobalhealth.eu.