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MDG 5 Most off Track of All MDGs – Recommendations for the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly

A group of non-governmental organizations published a joint position paper aimed to provide recommendations for the Africa Caribbean Pacific - European Union (ACP-EU) Joint Parliamentary Assembly and accelerate progress on MDG 5 (Improving maternal health). The paper, produced by Countdown 2015, International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network, and Action for Global Health, makes the case that despite past proclamations and commitments, “MDG 5 is the most off track of all MDGs.” In fact, as a result of unfulfilled financial commitments and wavering political will, “no significant progress has been made since 1990.”

The position paper reminds that while MDG 5 is achievable, it is necessary to recognize the interrelation between MDG 5 and the other health-related MDGs (MDGs 4 and 6), and address the Goals holistically.

The paper also notes that progress on Target 5.A, “still the most dramatic indicator of global health inequity,” is limited and fluctuates between countries and regions. Factors related to the unsatisfactory trend include inaccessible and unaffordable health systems, poor quality of services, and practices that violate women’s rights. Crucial to improving the situation of women and respect for their rights, and challenging harmful myths when it comes to family planning and maternal health is “the provision of comprehensive sexuality education and services.”

Looking at progress on Target 5.B indicators reveals that much more needs to be done. According to the position paper, “access to family planning is efficient for reducing maternal and child mortality, and is a cost-effective way to help achieving MDG 5 as well as other MDGs.” Nevertheless, use of contraceptives continues to be low in many developing countries, antenatal care is not readily available to many pregnant women, and pregnancy in adolescence remains widespread.

Taking into account the concerns, and observing that integration of health, namely maternal health and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), in national policies and strategies is insufficient, Countdown 2015, International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network, and Action for Global Health, recommend the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly to reverse the trend of declining assistance to MDG 5, and prioritize the Goal at the global as well as EU policy levels through:

-  providing adequate, predictable and diverse funding mechanisms for SRHR that are country-specific, support progress towards MDG 5, target civil society, and pay close attention to fragile states
-  promoting transparency of budget allocations by monitoring and evaluating expenditures
-  demonstrating leadership in prioritizing MDG 5 and addressing it in relation to other health MDGs
-  supporting dialogue on gender-sensitive approaches, needs of young people, and effective and affordable health services with all relevant stakeholders, including civil society

The position paper concludes that “the Millennium development targets are inseparable, and… will only be achieved if these goals are addressed in a holistic way.” The members of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly have an opportunity to help ensure that commitments and promises made by the EU and the ACP governments are followed by concrete steps and actions.

To view the full position paper, please [click here]