With 2013 behind us, the advancements made in Global Health are worthy of acknowledgement, and not limited to the following:
1. Child deaths from Malaria halved – A resounding achievement as stated by the WHO – global malaria mortality has been reduced by 45% globally and 49% in Africa as of 2013. Nearly 3.3 million lives were saved, primarily in 10 countries, and among children under 5 years of age. However, more needs to be done because over 6 million people need died from Malaria in 2012 alone. Insecticide treated bed-nets continue to be a useful weapon against Malaria and more need to be produced and distributed to ensure everyone is protected. Funding commitment from donor countries must remain strong to ensure treatment and control continue over a long term.
2. Ethiopia reached Millennium Development Goal 4 early – Ethiopia reached MDG 4 early by reducing under-5 mortality rates by two-thirds. Though Ethiopia has been a success story, India and Nigeria account for a third of the under-5 deaths in the world.
3. Technologically advanced contraception – Various kinds of technologically advanced contraception devices are being tested by USAID. These devices are meant to reduce unwanted pregnancies, but how market systems will evolve in developing countries to make these products affordable and accessible to couples (primarily women), is yet to be seen. You can view this slideshow that shows advanced female condoms, vaginal rings, progestin shots, diaphragms etc that are currently being tested in developing countries – AN INTRODUCTION TO CONTRACEPTIVE TECHNOLOGIES. Read more about USAID funded program with WomanCare Global to support, research and development of woman controlled family planning initiative in Zambia, Malawi and India.
4. Integrated plan to control pneumonia and diarrhea – The WHO and UNICEF developed the first of its kind Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPP-D). Why is this important? Pneumonia and diarrhea are the leading causes of death in children under 5, with nearly 2 million deaths worldwide.
5. PEPFAR turned 10 – The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is 10 years old. PEPFAR is America’s commitment to savings lives affected by AIDS around the world. As of September 2013, PEPFAR supported treatment of 6.7 million men, women and children worldwide exceeding the 2011 goal to help 6 million people. 17 million people received care through the program, and US became the largest donor to the Global Fund to Fights AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, extending treatment and care to nearly 9.7 million people. According to President Barak Obama, “The United States of America will remain the global leader in the fight against HIV and AIDS. We will stand with you every step of this journey until…we achieve, at long last, what was once hard to imagine — and that’s an AIDS-free generation.”
What we need to continue working on?
The list is endless, there are some immediate measure that must be taken to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. In particular, the following have been listed as critical action items:
1. Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate – While continuous efforts have been made to save children, primarily under-5, the Millennium Development Goal Target 4 has not yet been met.
2. Reduce Preventable Maternal Deaths – The Millennium Development Goal Target 5 aims to reduce maternal mortality ratio by three quarters and aims to achieve universal access to reproductive health. Though the MMR reduced by 47% over the past 20 years, reducing the MMR by two-thirds will require more political will and accelerated response from funders and partner nations.
3. Better Access to Anti-Retroviral Therapies – Though incidence of HIV has declined, better access to anti-retroviral therapies is required to achieve the Millennium Development Goal Target 6A and 6B (have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS; achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it).
4. Better Sanitary Care – 1.9 billion people have gained access to toilets, latrines or other improved sanitation facilities. Safe and clean sanitation must be a basic human right for all citizens of the world. Better policies and political will is needed to reduce open defecation, which is one of the leading cause for infectious diseases.