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The key to achieving all eight Millennium Development Goals is progress in the health-related goals through investment in poor people's health

Greater investment in the health of poor people is key to the reduction of poverty and achievement of all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This is the message from Dr. Andrew Cassels, director of the department charged with MDGs for the World Health Organization (WHO), to the 57th Annual Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Millennium Development Goals: Civil Society Takes Action, the premier Non-Government event held at the United Nations in New York each year.

“Achieving the health-related MDGs is one of the greatest challenges in international development, not least because they include the goal of reversing the global epidemic of HIV/AIDS and achieving steep declines in child and maternal mortality,” says Dr. Cassels.

Dr. Cassels is taking part in the Midday Interactive Workshop coordinated by WHO. It’s the first time the international health agency takes part in the annual United Nations NGO conference in New York.

In his address, Dr. Cassels identifies the major challenges to achieving the health MDGs. Most importantly, Cassels says progress in the health-related goals is attainable and identifies the ways and means to make the health goals a reality. Moreover, this health-related progress is seen as underpinning progress towards meeting other MDGs - for example, those related to universal primary education and poverty reduction.

The key points of Dr. Cassels’ speech:

  • The challenges are clear: They include major improvements in health care delivery systems, public sector management, new forms of engagement with civil society and the private sector, and policies and interventions beyond the health sector itself.
  • The major problem is not a lack of effective interventions: It is a question of making sure that the benefits of existing technologies are available to those who need them.
  • Scaling up requires significantly more resources.
  • Sustained progress depends on changes in the ways people and governments and countries north and south work together: The development of a fair system of international trade, the management of debt, ensuring access to the benefits of technology to all people on the basis of need, not ability to pay.

The WHO-coordinated Midday Workshop: “The MDGs, Health and Development Policy” takes place on Thursday, September 9th at noon in Conference Room #4. Other Workshop participants include:

  • Heather Grady: is the Global Lead on Rights and Institutional Accountability for Oxfam Great Britain. Ms. Grady helps to guide Oxfam’s policy and programme work on PRSPs and MDGs, especially on goal 8, making links to the global advocacy work aimed toward the Bank, Fund and donor community.
  • Representative of the Guyana Ministry of Health, Ms. Sonya Roopnauth.

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For more information contact:

Cecil Haverkamp
Telephone: +1 212 963 8265
Mobile phone: +1 646 269 4411
E-mail: haverkamp@un.org

Jacqueline Toupin
E-mail: toupinj@who.int