Improving the health standards of the world’s poorest communities through the achievement of the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was the key focus of the 63rd Annual United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) Conference held in Melbourne from 30 August to 1 September 2010.
Hosted by the Australian Government, the UN DPI/ NGO Conference brought together over 1,000 delegates from 350 NGOs and 70 countries, to discuss the progress made and the challenges that lie ahead in achieving the MDGs by 2015.
With “Advancing Global Health: Achieving the MDGs” as its theme, the Conference in Melbourne provided opportunities for NGOs to assess what progress had been achieved to address the health needs of people in developing countries, and what further actions were needed to realise global health outcomes. A Declaration calling on greater government commitment and support for health was prepared as part of the Conference, with a view to present the Declaration at the UN MDG Review Summit due to take place at the UN Headquarters in New York on 20-22 September.
The MDGs are a set of 8 goals and related targets committed by the global leaders at the Millennium Summit in year 2000. Despite the deadline of achieving the MDGs being only five years away, the following challenges remain:
- One billion people do not have access to adequate and appropriate food;
- 2.6 billion people lack access to a sanitation facility;
- Eight out of 10 people who do not have access to clean drinking water live in rural areas;
- Almost 9 million children die each year before the age of five due to preventable diseases;
- At least 340,000 women die each year because of preventable pregnancy-related complications;
- Millions of people are dying prematurely of non communicable and communicable diseases.
As stated by both the UN Secretary General and the World Health Organisation’s Director General, “health is the tie that binds all of the MDGs together.” Failing to achieve one MDG affects the progress of another – for example, if pregnant women don’t have access to skilled birth attendants, the chances of them giving birth to healthy newborns are low. Recognising the interconnections between the MDGs and the need for adopting a universal and holistic definition of health were key messages communicated by NGOs attending the Conference.
A report on the UN DPI NGO Conference by Sita Muaulu Saili (PPSEAWA's Youth Delegate to the Conference) and a summary of the conference sessions, including the "Achieving the MDGs in the Pacific" workshop can be found in the PDF documents below.