UNICEF and the Millennium Development Goals
2005: The case for optimism and urgency
The district’s midwives and birth attendants work long days, helping as many women as possible have a clean, assisted birth. In the district seat, the head doctor tries to make sure every village is covered. This is not easy. The unpaid health workers, called relais, come and go; record-keeping can be sporadic; pregnant women are sometimes lost to view; and the optimism of the log with the title ‘prenatal consultations’ is countered by the despair in the one marked ‘maternal deaths’.
Yet the motivation is there, and thanks to this intense local work that is part of a promising new strategy, the district’s under-five mortality rate has dropped nearly 25 per cent in just a few years.
And a paradox is revealed: It takes a lot of work to save small children from ‘easily’ preventable deaths in some of the poorest places on earth. This is important to keep in mind while reflecting on achievements and challenges of 2005, a year focused on assessing progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
A call to action:
The UN Millennium Project reports on all the Millennium Development Goals, prepared for the UN Secretary-General in 2005, showed that much more must be done before the world is on track to fulfill the aims of the Millennium Declaration and meet the Goals.
There are no magic bullets for achieving sustainable gains. But there are newfound commitments to partnership, positive trends and real results. Reforms at the UN and increases in aid are leading to more effective work. And children’s importance to achieving the Millennium Development Goals has infused discussions of how to move forward.
Every country committed to the Goals is accountable for its results. But the Millennium Development Goals cannot be achieved until it is recognized, everywhere, that ensuring children’s survival and caring for mothers will benefit all people. The task might be complex and of great magnitude, but it is urgent.
As demonstrated during 2005, UNICEF is positioned to cultivate and lead partnerships that can obtain results in achieving the MDGs. And it will continue to provide a trusted voice for children.
Note: Some country-specific information was provided by UNICEF country offices or drawn from UNICEF country office annual reports.