For a Better World – Millennium Development Goals

Millennium Development Goals

Millennium Development Goals

Millennium Development Goals or MDGs are time-bound, quantified targets the world had set for itself. The goals addressed extreme poverty, hunger, disease, lack of shelter and to promote gender equality, education and environmental sustainability. It was in 2000 that 189 nations pledged to free the world from such debilitating deprivations. The pledge was converted into 8 MDGs that were to be achieved by 2015.

In September 2010 the world connected again to recommit itself to accelerate these goals. Presently the UN agenda too rests on these MDGs and the target is to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation by 2015. The UN Millennium Campaign since 2002 supported and inspired people from around the world to take action for the MDGs.

While some countries made remarkable efforts in achieving health-related targets others have lagged behind. The countries making the least progress were actually affected by economic hardship or conflict. However targets are yet being adhered to and the 8 MDGs ranging from cutting extreme poverty by half, restricting HIV/AIDS and providing primary education are all target bound until 2015.

The blueprint for action agreeable to all countries received support from leading development institutions. These agencies spurred the process with their exceptional assistance so that targets could be achieved. The UN itself works with governments and allied partners to keep up the momentum. In fact health related targets were hand-held by World Health Organization to support efforts for achieving targets. WHO helped in developing health policies for governments to align priorities and track progress as also to disseminate data to plan spending patterns.

The Indian government too chalked out its 12th Five-Year Plan in conjunction with MDG targets to achieve faster and sustainable results. It brought about inclusive growth by incorporating the MDG working frame. This further ratified the potential for prioritized action on the MDG agenda. The ‘Millennium Development Goals (MDG) India Country Report-2014′ captures India’s progress that will be achieved by 2015. 2014, being the penultimate year for the efforts proved significant in realistically assessing progress.

All progress towards reaching these goals have seen mixed results. Despite unforeseen setbacks the reduction in poverty and increased access to health, education, technology and other essential services in many countries’ have been made into a reality. Of particular note is the work undertaken on AIDS that saw dramatic leveling off and decline. The world now looks ahead to the new set of goals established for 2016-2030.

End Poverty & Deprivation

End Poverty & Deprivation

Universal Health Coverage

Universal Health Coverage

                             Universal Health Coverage

On December 12, 2012, a unanimously passed United Nations resolution marked the day for Universal Health Coverage. It has now been two years since the endorsement for universal health coverage, that has since become the pillar for sustainable development and global security. The goal of Universal Health Coverage is to ensure that all people obtain health services they need without financial hardship.This requires a strong, efficient and well-run health system.

Such a system of financing health services includes access to essential medicines, technologies, along with a cadre of well-trained and motivated health workers. India’s efforts in these directions had already begun since 2005 with the advent of the National Rural Health Mission, launched to offer accessible, affordable and quality health care to rural populations. The intent was to cater to the most vulnerable sections. The focus of the Mission is to reduce Maternal Mortality Ratio, Infant Mortality Ratio and Total Fertility Rate.

The United Nations in India supports the Government of India to move forward towards Universal Health Coverage. For this purpose it provides evidence, technical and policy advice on effective interventions as well as mechanisms to monitor all progress. The WHO Country Office in India works in conjunction with ten leading world organizations for the purpose. These are Department for International Development (DFID), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), International Labour Organization (ILO), UNAIDS, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United States Aid for International Development (USAID), and the World Bank.

All these organizations work together to promote better support and commitment to Universal Health Coverage in India. Both the NRHM and the recently launched National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) are now included under the National Health Mission (NHM). Although some progress is made in bits and spurts, especially after formation of NHM there remain widespread challenges that need to be tackled. Some home truths emerge, that need to be taken cognizance of:

  • Inadequacy of availability of health care services (both public and private sectors).
  • Questionable quality of healthcare services (both in public and private sector).
  • Regulatory standards for public /private hospitals are inadequately defined and remain ineffectively enforced.
  • Affordability of health care remains a serious handicap, more so for majority of impoverished populations.
  • Most people incur heavy expenses for medical services purchased from the private sector.
  • The total expenditure on health care (both public and private together) is 3.7 per cent of the GDP.

The first-ever Universal Health Coverage Day was observed in New Delhi to mark the two-year anniversary. The high-level event convened by the Public Health Foundation of India and World Health Organization, was supported by Rockefeller Foundation and Oxfam India as part of a coalition having over 500 health and development organizations. They are all attempting to accelerate reforms that ensure health services be provided to all citizens. The quality of health services, medicines and diagnostics will hopefully be improved, thereby facilitating efficacy of National Health Assurance Mission. For doing this successfully the entire medical fraternity at all levels needs to pitch in to make a go with combined efforts.

Health For All

                                       Health For All

September 10 – World Suicide Prevention Day – Stay Calm & Choose Life

Suicide Prevention

This Too Shall Pass

Today we address a very somber issue. We may not have worried overly on this topic. But when we hear of students confiding of failure in studies or inability to seek admissions and start thinking along lines of self-destruct – we get concerned. We need to say – hey buddy hang around. Wait and watch. Life changes incessantly. Change is the only constant. And life never ceases to offer amazing avenues. So keep the faith – primarily on yourself. Look around and seek alternatives. Read stories of inspiration. Watch your world turn around!

World Suicide Prevention Day is observed on 10 September each year. The day provides an opportunity for joint action to raise awareness about suicide and suicide prevention around the world. The WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 has Member States committed to working towards global target of reducing suicide rate by 10% by 2020. The World Health Organization informs nearly 800,000 people die by suicide every year! These are surprising and frightening statistics. We have a part to play here – we need to act as the gatekeepers.

Grievously 75% of suicides occur in low and middle-income countries. The NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) in India as also several other studies continue to reveal alarming projections for percentage of suicide in India. Of the 800,000 people committing suicide worldwide every year, of these 135,000 (17%) are residents of India! According to Dr Shekhar Saxena, Director – Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse at WHO, “We know what works. Now is the time to act”.

The fact is people attempt to take their lives when they feel desperate and are unable to cope with problems. More suicides occur between 18 and 45, during productive age group years. The psychological and social impact of suicide on families is immeasurable. Studies suggest that each suicide leaves at least 6 people devastated and 6 lakh people become survivors every year in India. According to Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General the report on global suicide phenomenon “… is a call for action to address a large public health problem which has been shrouded in taboo for far too long”.

Suicides happen all over the world and actually take place at any age. Globally, suicide rates are highest in people aged 70 years and over. In some countries, however, the highest rates are found among the young. More men die by suicide than women. In developed countries three times as many men die by suicide than women. Men aged 50 years and above are particularly vulnerable. In low and middle-income countries young adults and elderly women evince higher rates of suicide than counterparts in high-income countries.

The good news is – Suicides are preventable. Effective measures include watchfulness, community support, care, compassion and extending hope. WHO recommends countries involve a range of government departments in developing a comprehensive coordinated response. High-level commitment is needed not just within the health sector, but also within education, employment and social welfare agencies. Extend help so that sufferers absorb set-backs and failures and look ahead with hope and fortitude. Human beings are naturally resilient. Teach them to lean on to their survival instincts. Never let them get to the point where they breakdown.

One needs to learn to live it up, despite it all. Stress and depression are part and parcel of life. Look at life through all its  vicissitudes. Cultivate hope and stay strong. Learn to laugh!! Laughing helps ease stress. Actually laughing is a great work out for the psyche. It refreshes and motivates you. Children laugh about 300 times a day while adults laugh only 15 to 100 times. Life needs to be dealt fair and square. Live each day one day at a time, when things go wrong, as they sometimes will. Accept. Resign. Move On. This ought to be the mantra for dispirited souls. The next best thing is to keep yourselves occupied – occupied in mind and body. Working hands are happy hands they say. Rejuvenate your psyches with laughter, music, nature and warmth of loving relationships. And keep chanting – This Too Shall Pass!

Live It Up

Stay Calm – Choose Life