Intended for healthcare professionals


Are the millennium development goals on target?

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 14 September 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c5045
  1. Joy Lawn, director, global evidence and policy
  1. 1Saving Newborn Lives/Save the Children USA, Cape Town 7405, South Africa
  1. joylawn{at}

    Successes and shortfalls so far make 2010 a tipping point especially for maternal and neonatal survival

    At the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000, 189 member states, including 147 heads of state, committed to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These eight interlinking goals tackle the global plagues of poverty, hunger, lack of education, and ill health and provide a unique opportunity to accelerate progress for the world’s poorest families (fig). On 20-22 September 2010, world leaders meet to assess progress over the past decade and set priorities for the five years before the MDG deadline of 2015.

    The Millennium Development Goals: eight interlinked development and health goals set in 2000 (baseline 1990, target 2015)

    Multiple reports have been published throughout the year, but are the promises of the MDGs connecting to progress?1 At the heart of the MDGs are goals 4 for child survival and 5 for maternal survival. Are fewer mothers, newborns, and children dying? Is essential health care improving for the poorest? Or are the numbers themselves a battleground? Maternal statistics have become as political as HIV/AIDS statistics were in the past.2

    Despite superficial differences, common themes exist in the new data—a mixture of success and shortfalls. The good news is that progress for child mortality is accelerating. Although fewer children died this year than last year, it is unacceptable that each year 8.8 million children still die, including 3.6 million newborns.3 However, progress for neonatal and maternal mortality seems to be lagging, with successes such as China being the exception …

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