The world health report

Chapter 2: Millennium Health Goals: paths to the future

Millennium Health Goals: paths to the future

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) place health at the heart of development and represent commitments by governments throughout the world to do more to reduce poverty and hunger and to tackle ill-health, gender inequality, lack of education, access to clean water and environmental degradation. Three of the eight goals are directly health-related; all of the others have important indirect effects on health. This chapter traces the origins of the MDGs and tracks the progress so far towards achieving them. It warns that without significantly strengthened commitments from both wealthy and developing countries, the goals will not be met globally.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted by the United Nations in 2000 provide an opportunity for concerted action to improve global health. They place health at the heart of development and establish a novel global compact, linking developed and developing countries through clear, reciprocal obligations.

Seizing the opportunity offered by the MDGs will not be easy. Wealthy countries have so far failed to live up to all of their responsibilities under the compact, which include establishing fairer international trade policies, increasing official development assistance, delivering debt relief and accelerating technology transfer. Despite progress in some cases, many developing countries are not currently on track to achieve their health-related MDG objectives. Without significantly strengthened commitments from both developed and developing countries, the MDGs will not be met globally, and outcomes in some of the poorest countries will remain far below the hoped-for achievements. WHO and international health partners must intensify their cooperation with Member States to speed up progress towards the MDGs and ensure that gains are made by those most in need.

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