Sep. 24

Joint Statement by UN Agencies on Achieving the Health MDGs

by Ray Chambers

Joint Statement by WHO, UNFPA, UNAIDS, UNICEF and the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Financing the Health MDGs and for Malaria on the Occasion of the 68th General Assembly of the United Nations

We have 829 days to go until the December 2015 MDG Deadline. Over the past 12 and a half years, the world has made remarkable progress against the goals, especially the health-related MDGs. Child and maternal deaths have been almost halved from 1990 levels. Malaria deaths have dropped 50%, driven largely by the distribution of over 400 million mosquito nets in the past several years. Over 6 million people, of the 9 million who need TB treatment, are now on treatment. HIV, once a death sentence with virtually no one on treatment, has undergone a dramatic shift with almost 10 million people on treatment today – -and if we can finish the job and put everyone on treatment, we will irreversibly halt the AIDS epidemic. These results are unmistakable proof that success is possible.

Now we must come together in one final big push to achieve the health MDGs, and lay the strongest of foundations for a post-2015 world.

We all know that the economic environment has been challenging, but despite that, the pace of our work to end maternal and child deaths, malaria deaths, AIDS-related deaths and eliminating new HIV infections among children has quickened over the past 3 years. This week, an unprecedented $1.15 billion has been freshly mobilized to reach MDGs 4 and 5 – the largest amount ever mobilized for those goals. Funds of this magnitude fill a substantial portion of the remaining financing gap. Last year, at the London FP Summit, some $2.6 billion funds were mobilized for family planning. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria is working hard to achieve its replenishment figure of $15 billion. Global investments in the AIDS response, totaling a US$ 18.9 billion, more than half from domestic sources has been the highest ever, demonstrating shared responsibility and global solidarity in action. Should the replenishment be successful, a significant portion of the funding required to achieve MDG 6 will also have been secured.

Funding will always be a challenge, but the amount we have mobilized – despite difficult economic times – is formidable, and we know we have even more funding to come in the remaining months of this year. We are on the right path – we have identified the life-saving commodities required, the geographic areas where the most deaths occur, and what women and children, in particular, are dying of; we know what interventions work and we know what it costs to prevent them.

It is now time for an unprecedented acceleration of effort to achieve the goals. We know it will take nothing short of a moonshot to accomplish the goals in the time remaining. The lives we must save in this final MDG phase are in the most difficult to reach areas, and are people who are chronically underserved. With a rights-based approach, combined with utilizing the advancements in science (effective antiretroviral therapy, malarial drugs, rapid diagnostics for TB), we can reach more people in need, faster and efficiently. We must do everything we can, to get as far as we can, by December 2015. Anything less will steepen our climb even further post-2015.

We stand together now to accelerate the effort to achieve the goals. We must focus on supporting countries to save 3.5 million more children and 122,000 more women and achieve MDGs 4 and 5; reduce more than a quarter million maternal deaths every year, and bring down the unmet need of millions of women for family planning; end malaria deaths and eliminate new HIV infections among children; provide access to antiretroviral therapy to the more than 28 million people in need of HIV treatment in 2013; and reach all 9 million people in the world who require TB treatment.

We will report to the UN Secretary General by the end of October on progress towards meeting the financial commitments and how they will accelerate actions towards achieving the MDGs.

We will continue to work in earnest with each country in a coordinated manner to support their efforts to achieve these goals. Key interventions exist that can achieve remarkable and rapid impact when scaled up effectively. For example, evidence supports substantially increased investments in community health workers – including midwives – to reach those who are unreached. Results-Based Financing and Conditional Cash Transfers are proving highly effective to eliminate barriers for the poor and underserved. We have determined collectively a list of the highest-impact, but neglected, life-saving commodities that if rolled out could save millions of lives. We have evidence to show that when women and girls are given the means to delay marriage, prevent unwanted pregnancies, and space births, maternal and child deaths can be significantly reduced. Having proven that family planning is the most cost-effective measure to prevent unwanted pregnancies and reduce birth-related deaths, we have further sharpened efforts to reduce the unmet need of 222 million women – increasing commodities demand and strengthening supply, identifying where exactly the burden is and calculating how much it costs to scale up efforts. Antiretroviral therapy now is scientifically proven to not just stop AIDS-related deaths but also stop HIV transmission and reduce new HIV infections. It is now the moment to weave all of these excellent ideas together and intensify our support to countries to execute against them, in support of their own country plans.

Most important to the success of this entire endeavor will be leadership and conviction of member states and communities who are working day in and day out to achieve the goals. While there is more funding to raise, with significant funding now mobilized, our focus now turns fully to implementation and execution.

Next year, even six months from now, will be too late to start accelerating our efforts. Now is the moment to build on our remarkable success and insure that we actually meet the health MDGs in the time left to achieve them.

Please join us in this once in a lifetime opportunity.

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