Geneva – Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, addressed the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations today to launch the Millennium Development Goals Report 2009, and call attention to the current economic crisis' affect on the poverty reduction goals. The report states that MDG 5 is the goal towards which least progress has been made thus far, and notes that since the mid-1990s, most developing countries have experienced a major reduction of donor funding for family planning on a per woman basis. The report also calls for greater political will to reduce maternal mortality, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, where negligible progress has been made so far.
"This year's Millennium Development Goals Report delivers a message that should not surprise us but which we must take to heart: the current economic environment makes achieving the goals even more difficult," Mr. Ban told the high-level segment of the Economic and Social Council. "We have been moving too slowly to meet our goals. Yet the report also shows that when we have the right policies, backed by adequate funding and strong political commitment, actions can yield impressive results."
The new publication, based on data from over 20 organizations both within and outside the UN system, is considered the most comprehensive global MDG assessment to date.
Along with the launch of the report, fistula survivor, Sarah Omega Kidangasi, and singer, actress and Virgin Unite ambassador, Natalie Imbruglia, addressed the 400 attending ministers of health, ministers of foreign affairs and ambassadors at the ECOSOC High-Level Segment to call attention to maternal health and obstetric fistula, a devastating injury of childbearing that leaves women with agonizing pain, chronic incontinence and – in most cases – a stillborn baby.
"Obstetric fistula was eliminated here in Europe and the United States more than 100 years ago," said Ms. Imbruglia, the Virgin Unite ambassador and spokesperson for the Campaign to End Fistula. "It's unacceptable that women and girls in developing countries are still suffering from this entirely preventable and treatable condition."
ECOSOC this year focuses on Global Public Health, and the participants at the High-Level segment also listened to Ms. Kidangasi, a Kenyan woman who has personally experienced living with fistula.
"Night and day for 12 years, my life was continually put on the verge. With uncontrolled leaking of urine, foul smell, stigma, isolation, pain and rejection, it was like dying every day," said 33-year-old Sarah, who developed fistula after prolonged obstructed labor that left her baby dead.
It is estimated that more than 2 million women are living with fistula in developing countries; an additional 50,000 to 100,000 new cases occur each year. Every year, more than half a million women die in childbirth. The ECOSOC meeting 2009 will discuss the health-related MDGs. MDG 5, which aims to improve maternal health and reduce maternal death is often called the heart of the MDGs because if it fails, the others will, too.
For more on fistula, visit www.endfistula.org
For more information on the ECOSOC, click here.