WHO chief calls for greater efforts to reach UN millennium goals

08:59, May 18, 2010      

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The chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday called on governments to make greater efforts to reach the United Nations' eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the target year of 2015.

"We have very little time left, and little space for unproductive debates. We need to move forward fast," Margaret Chan told the annual World Health Assembly (WHA), which opened on Monday in Geneva.

"We need coherence in policies, within and beyond the health sector, and we need complementarity of efforts," Chan said.

The MDGs, adopted by all the UN member states, include reducing extreme poverty, achieving universal primary education, reducing child mortality, fighting epidemics such as AIDS, and ensuring environmental sustainability.

One major topic of this year's WHA is "monitoring of the achievement of the health-related MDGs."

Chan stressed that reaching the health-related MDGs actually means "reaching the poor, who are almost invariably the hardest to reach." "This is the challenge, and the measure of success," she said.

"The MDGs promote health as part of an overarching strategy for poverty reduction. To put it bluntly, if we miss the poor, we miss the point," she added.

According to the WHO chief, the world still has "a long way to go," especially in reducing maternal and newborn mortality.

But governments have also made a lot of progress, notably in reducing the number of under-five childhood deaths, increasing access to antiretroviral therapy for AIDS in poor countries, tackling tuberculosis and malaria, and controlling the neglected tropical diseases.

"Recent progress tells us that when the international community is fully committed to a goal, creative solutions can be found and obstacles, including financial ones, can be overcome," Chan said.

As the WHO's supreme decision-making body, the WHA is usually participated in by health ministers from all the 153 WHO member states. This year's five-day conference will discuss a wide variety of public health issues as well as administration and management matters.



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