Were the MDGs Successful?

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September 23, 2015 - The Millennium Development Goals expire at the end of this year and will be replaced by the Sustainable Development Goals that will be adopted by UN member states on Friday.

But as advocates have pointed out, particularly those from the least developed countries, the MDG agenda is still unfinished business and will be incorporated into the new, and expanded, global goals that will run until 2030.

Here we take stock of what has been achieved since 2000 when the eight Millennium Development Goals were adopted, and the gaps that remain.

Goal 1 – Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

The number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen from 1.75 billion in 1999 to 836 million in 2015 but about 800 million people still live in extreme poverty and suffer from hunger. Over 160 million children under the age of five have inadequate height for their age due to malnutrition.

Goal 2 – Achieve universal primary education

The number of out-of-school children of primary school age worldwide fell by almost half, to an estimated 57 million in 2015, down from 100 million in 2000. Primary school net enrollment rate in the developing regions has reached 91 percent in 2015 from 83 percent in 2000. Further efforts needed to achieve universal primary education.

Goal 3 – Promote gender equality and empower women

The average proportion of women in parliament has increased from 14 percent to 22 percent since 2000, but remains low in absolute terms. Globally, about three-quarters of working-age men participate in the labor force, compared to only half of working-age women. Women earn 24 percent less than men globally.

Goal 4 – Reduce child mortality

The global under-five mortality rate has declined by more than half, dropping from 90 to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births between 1990 and 2015. More work is needed to improve child survival rates. Every minute around the world, 11 children die before their fifth birthday, mostly from preventable causes.

Goal 5 – Improve maternal health

The global maternal mortality ratio has fallen from 330 to 210 deaths per 100,000 live births between 2000 and 2013. Only half of pregnant women receive the recommended amount of antenatal care.

Goal 6 – Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

New HIV infections fell by 40 percent between 2000 and 2013, from an estimated 3.5 million cases to 2.1 million. In sub-Saharan Africa, still less than 40 percent of youth aged 15 to 24 years had correct knowledge of HIV transmission in 2014. Over 6.2 million malaria deaths have been averted between 2000 and 2015

Goal 7 – Ensure environmental sustainability

Between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of the global population using an improved sanitation facility has risen from 54 percent to 68 percent, and those using an improved drinking water source increased from 76 percent to 91 percent. Globally, 147 countries have met the MDG drinking water target, 95 countries have met the MDG sanitation target and 77 countries have met both. Emissions of carbon dioxide rose from 23.8 to 33.0 billion metric tons from 2000 to 2012.

Goal 8 –  Develop a global partnership for development

Official development assistance from developed countries rose 66 percent in real terms between 2000 and 2014, to USD 135.2bn. Funding will remain a critical factor for the post-2015 development agenda.

Related Story: Understanding the Sustainable Development Goals – Five Key Questions

UN: Cancer Rates Will Worsen With Poorest Hit Hardest

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Feb. 5, 2014 –  Cancer rates globally are predicted to increase by about 70 percent in the next two decades and lower-income countries will be hit hardest.

Late diagnoses and the high cost of treatment place an undue burden on poorer patients and population growth, ageing and the spread of risk factors such as tobacco use will result in the situation worsening, according to the 2014 World Cancer Report, published by WHO.

“This divide between the experiences of individual cancer patients will only increase,” the report says. “Taken in isolation, this is a dark prediction.”

The report calls for much greater emphasis on cancer prevention as it is “implausible to treat our way out of cancer.” On a positive note, it says that there is enough information available to prevent 50 percent of cancers if prevention strategies are implemented.

It states that the decades-old perception of cancer as a disease of affluence is false as high-risk factors such as tobacco use, obesity, alcohol abuse, less exercise, sun exposure and pollution are not unique to rich countries.

More than 60 percent of cancer cases occur in Africa, Asia, Central and South America and these regions account for 70 percent of cancer deaths.

There were 14 million new cancer cases and 8 million cancer-related deaths in 2012, according to the report.

The five most common cancers for Women are: 1. Breast 25.2%; 2. Colorectum 9.2%; 3. Lung 8.7%; 4. Cervix  7.9%; 5. Stomach 4.8%, and for Men: 1. Lung 16.7%; 2. Prostate 15%; 3. Colorectum 10%; 4. Stomach 8.5%; 5. Liver 7.5%.

Lung, stomach and liver cancer have the highest mortality rates for men. Breast cancer, which has a survival rate of about 65 percent, still accounts for 14.7 percent of cancer deaths in women – because of its high prevalence – followed by lung cancer at 13.2 percent.

- Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz