This year’s report card on where the world, the regions, and the developing countries are with regard to attaining the various Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), shows quite a diverse picture. As the Global Monitoring Report 2013 points out, progress toward the MDGs has not been universal and there are many poor countries that are still very far away from the targets where we want them to be by 2015.
If we take a look at progress towards attainment of the MDGs, we can conclude that four out of 21 targets have been met by 2010, well ahead of the 2015 deadline. Note that even though there are 8 Goals, there are 21 targets and about 56 indicators through which the world tries to monitor their progress.
It’s a long ride on a non-motorable road to Pujehun district in the south of Sierra Leone. We are on a visit to see how the country’s Free Health Care Initiative (FHCI) for pregnant women and young children is working out.
In the maternity ward of the district hospital, a woman proudly shows us her new born baby – it’s her third child and fourth pregnancy. But, more importantly, her first child to be delivered in a hospital. She is among the thousands of women who have delivered in hospitals for the first time since the introduction of free health care. Are we seeing early signs of a change in health seeking behavior among the poor in the country?
Each year almost 4 million children die within the first four weeks of life, many from preventable or treatable causes. Much programmatic aid is now devoted to devising ways to ensure that simple effective health practices, such as ensuring a more sterile birth environment, are adopted on a wide scale. A number of recent evaluations from South Asia suggest that the active involvement of local women’s groups in problem solving can be among the most cost-effective interventions to prevent deaths.