Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Where were the Leaders?": The MDGs at Ten-Years Old

The Millennium Development Goals are now 10 years old.

Here is an important article by Alexander Baumgarten:
One of the heroes of the Anglican Communion, Father Gideon Byamugisha, an HIV-positive priest in the Church of Uganda, asks us to imagine a world in 25 years that did not summon the moral and political will to eradicate extreme poverty and deadly disease. He speaks of those who will be “survivors” twenty-five years from now.

“The greatest and most obvious gaps that survivors will wonder about, and be angry about” he says, “are the missed opportunities, the lack of political will and the lack of total commitment by those of us in leadership positions to use all that we knew and all that we had to fight [poverty and disease.] They will surely ask ‘What went wrong?’ ‘What prevented us from transforming the knowledge and the resources we had, into focused will and targeted action?’ ‘Who were the world leaders at that time?’”

The world is now less-than five years away from the completion point of the Millennium Development Goals, the commitments made a decade ago by world leaders to cut deadly poverty around the world in half by 2015. By some measures, important progress is being made in impoverished countries as a result of MDG initiatives. Consider, for example, the way in which debt cancellation has allowed poor countries like Tanzania to boost primary-school enrollment rates to unexpected levels.

But what about political will in countries like the United States, the momentum that will define whether the world makes it over the finish line for the MDGs by 2015?
Read his whole article here.

And as reminder of the hard work left to be done, is this piece from the NY Times:

At Front Lines, AIDS War Is Falling Apart

An excerpt:
Uganda is the first and most obvious example of how the war on global AIDS is falling apart.  The last decade has been what some doctors call a “golden window” for treatment. Drugs that once cost $12,000 a year fell to less than $100, and the world was willing to pay.  In Uganda, where fewer than 10,000 were on drugs a decade ago, nearly 200,000 now are, largely as a result of American generosity. But the golden window is closing.
Uganda is the first country where major clinics routinely turn people away, but it will not be the last. In Kenya next door, grants to keep 200,000 on drugs will expire soon. An American-run program in Mozambique has been told to stop opening clinics. There have been drug shortages in Nigeria and Swaziland. Tanzania and Botswana are trimming treatment slots, according to a report by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders.

The collapse was set off by the global recession’s effect on donors, and by a growing sense that more lives would be saved by fighting other, cheaper diseases. Even as the number of people infected by AIDS grows by a million a year, money for treatment has stopped growing.
Read the whole article.

A prayer for us and the MDGs:

Most loving God,
as your desire for mercy for the poor is unrelenting,
may we be unrelenting in our pursuit of mercy for all;
as your compassion for the suffering of the poor knows no limit,
may our hearts overflow with compassion for all;
as you long for justice for the poor,
may we strive for justice for all.
Open our eyes to the structures of oppression from which we benefit,
and give us courage to accept our responsibility,
wisdom to chart a sound course amid complexity,
and perseverance to continue our work until it is finished.
Breathe your life-giving Spirit afresh into your Church
to free us from apathy and indifference;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(from EGR)

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