The UK Government has praised global commitments to save 16 million women and children, reverse the spread of malaria and tackle hunger and under-nutrition.
The commitments were made last week at the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit where world leaders, civil society organisations and prominent figures from the worlds of business and entertainment gathered to agree on the action needed to meet the MDGs by 2015 and lift millions of people out of poverty. Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister and Andrew Mitchell, International Development Secretary represented the UK.
The UK focused its efforts on securing a major push on the most off-track MDGs, particularly women’s and children’s health. More than a third of a million women have died during pregnancy or childbirth in the past year and 25,000 children die every day. The overwhelming majority of these deaths are easily preventable.
UN Secretary-General’s Ban Ki-moon’s Every Woman Every Child event launched a Global Strategy aimed at saving the lives of more than 16 million women and children. At the event Nick Clegg announced that the UK will save the lives of at least 50,000 women in pregnancy and childbirth, 250,000 newborn babies and enable 10 million couples to access modern methods of family planning over the next five years.
The event generated an unprecedented $40 billion in resources for maternal and child health, but as important as the financial commitments was the wide range of partners that came behind the strategy. Developing countries were prominent: Afghanistan and Yemen pledged to increase access to family planning and safe births and Nigeria committed to spend a share of oil revenues on healthcare. Significant new commitments also came from the private sector, charities and NGOs and international organisations.
Malaria was another key priority for the UK and the subject of a high profile side event, co-hosted by the UK, which challenged leaders from both rich and poor countries to do more to save lives needlessly lost every day to this disease. The event succeeded in generating impressive new commitments and again, the UK will play its part. Nick Clegg and Andrew Mitchell announced our pledge to help halve the number of deaths caused by malaria in at least ten African countries by 2015 by increasing access to malaria prevention, diagnostics and treatment.
Andrew Mitchell also announced the UK’s support for the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) ‘1,000 days’ campaign at a side event co-hosted by Hilary Clinton. He spoke in support of this initiative and the Nutrition Leaders Council which would help drive this forward.
In his speech to the General Assembly, the Deputy Prime Minister took the platform to showcase overall UK leadership on international development issues. He reiterated the UK’s commitment to reaching 0.7% of GNI in aid by 2013 and challenged others to live up to their promises.
The Summit ended with the formal adoption of the outcome document Keeping the Promise: United to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals [PDF format, 300kB] . This important document offers us a path towards meeting the MDGs, giving a lifeline to millions of the world’s poorest people. DFID will now spend the next five years making sure that the international community, as well as the UK, lives up its promises.