The Millennium Development Goals come to an end in just over 600 days. Whatever the endgame looks like, there will be no disputing the fact that the MDGs enabled – and are still enabling – historic global alignment and unparalleled collective action. That is the power of clear and quantifiable goals – something I learned time and again early in my business career, and even more so over my 30 years as a philanthropist.
So why, over the past quarter, have we been working with our partners to produce “acceleration roadmaps” to meet the MDGs, when many others have moved on to thinking about a future set of goals? The answer is simple: If we can bend the curve of the current trajectories for MDGs 4, 5 and 6 even further than we already have, we will save over one million additional children’s and women’s lives in the process and lay the foundation for healthier societies for years to come.
Since the beginning of this year, we have worked with a broad coalition of partners to lay out three MDG Acceleration Roadmaps, intended to identify the key levers we can pull to result in saving more lives. The plans share common characteristics: they seek efficiency wherever possible; they seek alignment among stakeholders who may not traditionally work together; they limit their focus to the geographies where mortality is highest; and they propose acceleration activities that can be measured and reported.
Given the limited time remaining, it was clear that we would not have time for any “new initiatives” – which is why the themes of “opportunism” and “integration” run through each roadmap. How can we, by bringing down the walls between our areas of work, save an even greater number of children and their mothers? One of the ways is by piggybacking additional services into existing contacts that mothers and children already have. We are developing these ideas with our partners and will shortly present them. Stay tuned.
Here is a snapshot of what these MDG Acceleration Plans could achieve if executed:
- The MDG4 Child Survival Roadmap presents a plan to close the MDG achievement gap of one million additional children’s lives that must be saved in 2015 – on top of our current lives-saved trajectory of 1.2 million – in order to achieve MDG4. This plan was developed in close cooperation with UNICEF, USAID, the Government of Norway, the UN Commission on Life Saving Commodities, Clinton Health Access Initiative and others, and was launched in Davos at the World Economic Forum this past January. Learn more and view the Roadmap here.
- The Nigeria MDG Achievement Roadmap presents an 8-quarter plan to save 400,000 children’s and 20,000 mothers’ lives by the end of 2015 (as part of Nigeria’s effort to Save One Million Lives), driven by a remarkable coalition of government officials, private sector leaders and development partners who came together to craft an aligned vision for accelerating progress to achieve the health-related MDGs in Nigeria. Read more here.
- The MDG5 Maternal/Newborn Survival Roadmap, still in development with leadership from a group of key leaders in the global health community known as the H4+*, and planned for release at the next Secretary General’s MDG Advocates meeting, is a plan to save the lives of an additional 140,000 mothers and 250,000 newborns by the end of 2015, while also providing universal access to modern contraception methods. The roadmap focuses heavily on the 48 hours surrounding childbirth, when both the mother’s and child’s lives are at greatest risk, and where it is possible to deliver high-impact, cost-effective interventions for the mother and baby together – in most cases, by the same health providers at the same time. The proposed roadmap – spearheaded by a unique private-public partnership – is a bold expression of confidence that the health MDGs can be met.
Though the MDG clock is clicking loudly, it is not too late to sharpen our plans and press on with urgency and confidence. Working under the umbrella of the MDGs is a privilege for us all: They are not only providing a shared vision, but they are providing a shared sense of purpose. Let’s stay committed to do everything we can to get as close as we can to reaching these beacons of light.
* H4+ is comprised of WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, UNAIDS, UN Women, and the World Bank