The Millennium Development Goals, established in 2000, set forth a framework to encourage development by improving social and economic conditions in the world’s poorest countries. The MDGs have led to significant progress in the improvement of health in populations across the globe. Progress towards the achievement of the MDGs, however, has been uneven with some countries unlikely to accomplish some or all of the MDGs by 2015. While reductions in incident cases of malaria and AIDS related deaths in many areas have decreased significantly we continue to face unacceptable levels of maternal and child mortality.
As 2015 approaches we look to new leaders to shape the agenda that will define the post MDG era. To be successful this plan will need to incorporate an honest appraisal of the successes and shortcomings of the MDG results and build upon this foundation. Health is a critical part of sustainable development, thus, making this discussion of the utmost importance. Achieving our goals beyond 2015 will require leaders with vision, determination and commitment.
Looking into the post 2015 era requires global health leaders to prepare for health challenges not considered by the original MDGs. Specifically, the emergence of major non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease that threaten population health and resources. Leadership will need to integrate the fight against traditional enemies like malaria and TB with surveillance programs to hasten early detection and treatment of the major NCDs. Without this commitment we risk trading one epidemic for another.
The MDGs emphasized the need for individualized policy solutions to meet a country’s specific challenges. Visionaries in the post 2015 era will look beyond the confines of health priorities alone to include health in a broader discussion of development. Already we see what these integrated approaches may look like in Nigeria where careful analysis of the country’s needs and priorities has helped to develop an ambitious plan to save one million lives by scaling up primary health services for women and children, while utilizing the revenue from domestic resources to create a sustainable funding model.
Leaders for the post 2015 era face great challenges. Changing economics will require that more be done with less, making the need for clear goals, improved management and greater accountability for performance and results critical for success. Leaders will need to avoid becoming mired in politics to move forward an aggressive agenda that places an emphasis on human rights and equalities. Leaders must be inclusive and co-operative to ensure that all organizations maximize their efforts to improve global health.
The post 2015 era faces many challenges that have not been completely addressed by the current MDGs. In this issue of Global Health and Diplomacy we hear from the voices of leadership for the current MDGs and the post 2015 era. Their commitment and intellect will help to guide the successes of the post 2015 era.