Millennium development goals: Are we on track?

BOSTON In April 2007, the General Assembly of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations convened to discuss progress made towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Patrick Webb, PhD, dean for academic affairs at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, presented on the status of the Millennium Development Goal One (MDG1): radically reducing extreme poverty and hunger.

The MDGs were developed at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000 to set measurable goals and targets for a range of pressing global problems, including poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women. MDG1 has a twofold objective: reduce the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day, and reduce the proportion of people suffering hunger by half. In order to meet these goals, Webb highlighted recent successes that can guide future efforts.

There are three priority issues to be tackled in seeking to address the second objective (on hunger) removing the invisibility of hunger by better measuring and highlighting areas making limited progress, promoting innovations in programming, and integrating mainstream lessons from successful action in humanitarian settings (saving lives and reducing acute malnutrition) into development interventions. Development efforts can address these issues by improving protocols and products for treating malnutrition, and preventing malnutrition by enhancing behaviors and choices that lead to improved nutrition throughout the lifecycle.

Poverty and hunger are multidimensional problems requiring multidimensional solutions. To address the multidimensional nature of these problems, the first MDG addresses five distinct goals: reducing poverty, narrowing the poverty gap (between richest and poorest), increasing the share of income enjoyed by the poorest families, reducing the share of preschool children who are und

Contact: Siobhan Gallagher
Tufts University, Health Sciences

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