Poor countries will not meet health goals, WHO warns

Posted: 24 August 2005

Most poor countries will miss global targets to reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and reverse the toll of AIDS and other diseases by 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned in a new report.

None of the poorest regions of the developing world is on track to meet the target of meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). HIV/AIDS, which kills three million people worldwide a year is growing gradually in major parts of Asia, according to the WHO report: Health and the Millennium Development Goals. "The evidence so far suggests that while there has been some progress, too many countries - particularly the poorest - are falling behind in health," WHO Director-General, Lee Jong-Wook, said in a statement. "This is likely to affect other areas, including education, gender equality and poverty reduction," he said. On the positive side, more poor women delivering babies now have a skilled medical person helping them. However, more than 500,000 women still die each year in pregnancy and childbirth, and maternal death rates are 1,000 times higher in sub-Saharan Africa than in high-income countries, according to the report. The MDG for maternal mortality aims to reduce the 1990 maternal mortality rate, by three-quarters, by 2015. Another 200 million women lack safe and effective contraceptive services, the report said. In 14 African countries, levels of under-five mortality are higher than in 1990, according to the report. "If worldwide trends continue through 2015, the reduction in mortality among children under-five will be about one quarter, far from the target of a two-thirds reduction," it added.

Source: IPPF/Reuters 22 August, 2005.