Women, children, and global public health: beyond the millennium development goals

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 21 April 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1755

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Nick J Brown, associate editor,
  2. Martin P Ward Platt, senior editor,
  3. R Mark Beattie, editor in chief
  1. 1Archives of Disease in Childhood, BMJ Publishing, BMA House, London WC1H 9JR, UK
  1. Correspondence to: R M Beattie mark.beattie{at}
  • Accepted 25 March 2015

As the deadline approaches for the millennium development goals, Nick Brown, Martin Ward Platt, and Mark Beattie discuss the sustainable development goals and the potential barriers to achieving them

The eight millennium development goals were a breakthrough. Together we created a blueprint for ending extreme poverty. We defined achievable targets and timetables. We have more development success stories than ever before. The transformative impact of the MDGs [millennium development goals] is undeniable. This is an achievement we can be proud of. But the clock is ticking, with much more to do. There is more to do for the mother who watches her children go to bed hungry—a scandal played out a billion times each and every night. There is more to do for the young girl weighed down with wood or water, when instead she should be in school. There is no global project more worthwhile. Let us keep the promise—Ban Ki-moon, in his opening remarks to the millennium development goal summit, 20 September 2010.

The millennium development goals were aspirational targets set by the United Nations in New York in September 2000.1 At the time governmental foreign aid was falling worldwide and the financing of major projects was dominated by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The goals were the result of concern at stagnation in mortality rates and social inequity and were based on what might be achievable by the end of 2015. The eight goals were:

  • Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger

  • Universal primary education

  • Promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women

  • Reduction of child mortality

  • Improvement of adolescent and maternal health

  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases

  • Ensure environmental sustainability

  • Development of a global partnership for development

Each goal had specific targets, some of which were quantified—for example, goals …

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