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Sexual and Reproductive Health and the Millennium Development Goals, is there a link?

By June 22, 2005News

– Release date: 23 June 2005

Over the past five years the Millennium Development Goals have become the primary framework for shaping development strategies. Developing countries are beginning to create "MDG-ised" development plans; bilateral and multilateral donors are increasingly channelling funds toward programs aimed at achieving the MDGs; while UN agencies are incorporating the goals into their programming.

While the MDGs have become a major focus of development assistance and activities, there are a number of important issues that are not adequately incorporated into the goals, including the primary goal of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD PoA)-universal access to reproductive health by 2015. With world leaders gathering in September 2005 to review progress in achieving the MDGs and implementing the Millennium Declaration, the IFPA is working to ensure that they recognize the contribution of sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights towards achieving the MDGs.

What are the MDGs?

The international community set a new framework for action in September 2000, when the UN General Assembly held a Millennium Summit and agreed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were broadly based on the recommendations from the major UN summits of the 1990s. These formed the basis for a new ambitious global development plan, with the broad aim of halving the number of people living in absolute poverty, by the year 2015.

The Goals were set as:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development.

Why make changes when it looks like we can’t even achieve the Goals as they stand?

Preliminary reviews of progress in achieving the MDGs suggest that the international community is making unsatisfactory progress and is in danger of falling well short of achievement of the goals by 2015. One important reason for this is the failure to include sexual and reproductive health as a core component of the MDGs.

Universal access to reproductive health information and services (the core goal of the ICPD Programme of Action) is necessary to achieve virtually all the individual MDGs.

In particular the three MDGs which address health: maternal health, HIV/AIDS and infant mortality. A fourth addresses gender equality.

In principle these goals overlap entirely with, and indeed, were included in the Cairo agenda. So the result at the Millennium Summit should have been increased commitment – political and financial – to reproductive health services. But this has not been the case.

Instead due to its exclusion from the MDGs, sexual and reproductive health has been relegated to a lower status in development priorities – by developing countries, donor countries, and international institutions.

What is the IFPA going to do about it?

This September World leaders will review progress made on the Goals since they were developed following the Millennium Declaration in 2000. In the lead up to that the IFPA is working to ensure that Ireland does its part in ensuring that the goal of universal access to reproductive health information and services by 2015 is integrated into strategies to attain the Millennium Development Goals.

The IFPA has also joined the Make Poverty History Campaign.