In 2000 world leaders came together to set global targets for tackling poverty. The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were designed to be achieved by 2015. As that year approaches the world is beginning to consider what will come next.
The MDGs galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest, but extreme poverty remains and there is so much more to do.
Ban Ki Moon, the United Nations’ Secretary General, has appointed three world leaders to advise him on a new framework for development after 2015. This framework will lay the foundations for poverty reduction for the foreseeable future and is likely to be the most important piece of work on development in our lifetimes.
The UK’s David Cameron, Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia have been appointed by Ban to lead a High Level Panel on the Post 2015 Development Agenda, who are to make their recommendations to the United Nations in May 2013.
Civil society organisations have been asked to make suggestions for the new framework, so here are a few highlights of what Health Poverty Action thinks must be included.
What we believe the agenda for development should include
There must be an overarching aim of improving human wellbeing. The fundamental connection between poverty, health, and inequality must be recognised and attention must be given to transforming the global systems and policies which shape them.
Health should be seen as a cross-cutting issue and the entire range of factors which impact on health should be addressed.
Universal Health Coverage
Every human being has the right to the best standard of health possible. While health and wellbeing go much further than providing health services, Health Poverty Action agrees with many others that a key step towards realising our health rights would be Universal Health Coverage (UHC). This means every human being having access to an essential package of quality health services, without the risk of financial hardship from out-of-pocket expenses.
Click here to sign the petition supporting the inclusion of Universal Health Coverage in the Post-2015 framework.
Human rights, equality and sustainability
The future development framework must be based on human rights, equality and sustainability. Human rights principles encapsulate broad goals such as equality and non-discrimination as well as specific rights to health, economic wellbeing and civil and political participation.
Reducing inequalities between women and men, different ethnic groups, people of different ages, sexual orientation or physical and mental ability and in economic terms, would have a massive impact on wellbeing globally. This also resonates with the international community’s commitment to sustainable development which has three dimensions: economic development, care for the environment and social wellbeing.
The right of everyone to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health can only be realised when the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age are addressed. The new goals must take account of the wider determinants of health, for example addressing policies on food, water and sanitation, the environment, gender and racial equality. Economic and political structures which sustain poverty and discrimination must also be transformed, for example global financial systems and structures governing land tenure and access to natural resources.
Global goals for a global world
Goals to improve worldwide wellbeing need to apply to the whole world. The right to health, and other human rights, are universal, and we all share a responsibility to seek the realisation of our human rights.
This means enshrining a rights-based approach in any future set of goals to underline the importance of citizens from every country being able to hold their governments to account for their fulfillment, and highlighting the importance of participation and non-discrimination.
It also means recognising that we live in an interconnected world. Policy and practice in wealthy countries, and at the global level, have an impact on the lives, health and wellbeing of the poor. Examples include the effect of free trade agreements on access to affordable medicines; the loss of potential funds for health services in developing countries from corporate tax evasion; and the effects of speculation in the financial markets on food prices, and thus hunger and nutrition. Transforming these policies and practices will include strengthening low-income countries’ capacity to collect revenues, tackling corporate and market behaviour, and agreeing on redistributive forms of innovative finance, such as a global or regional Financial Transactions Tax.
Measurement of the new framework must have equity at its heart. The Millennium Development Goals’ focus on aggregate, numerical targets for reducing poverty has been widely criticised because it has led to a concentration on reaching the largest numbers of people, meaning that many people who were already hard to reach have continued to be neglected.
In particular, progress should be measured at a sub-national level and data needs to be broken down by various factors including income, gender and ethnicity, to ensure inequities are visible and allow better targeting of vulnerable groups.