Heads of States and Government continued to press for greater action to end extreme poverty on the margins of the three-day Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York today.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that his nation will provide 1.4 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. “At a time of difficult fiscal space, France has put the interests of people living with HIV first,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), urging all other countries to follow France’s lead.
More than 7,400 people are infected and 5,500 die from AIDS-related illnesses every day, and HIV remains the leading cause of death among reproductive-age women worldwide, according to the UN.
Although some relevant progress has been made in order to achieve the MDGs by the deadline of 2015 -school enrolment has improved, child mortality has been reduced and access to clean water has expanded-, Least Developed Countries (LDC) remain the group facing the most severe challenging in realizing the eight MDGs. They “represent the poorest and most vulnerable segment of humanity”, voiced Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Currently, more than half of the 800 million people in the 49 LDCs live below the poverty line, while only six of them have poverty rates under 30 per cent. Countries are classified as LDCs if they meet three criteria: low income; human capital status based on education, nutrition, health and literacy indicators; and economic vulnerability.
The General Assembly President Joseph Deiss – who expressed his will of making global governance the central theme of the current General Assembly – pointed out that economic, food and energy crises have severely impacted the LDCs. “We have to focus on the specific needs and constraints of the Least Developed Countries if we want to alleviate suffering and raise their population out of poverty,” he emphasized.
On the same line, the forum on childhood under-nutrition named “1,000 Days: Change a Life, Change the Future” stressed the critical role of proper early feeding in combating extreme hunger and poverty. “Under-nourished children are more likely to get sick. They cannot concentrate in school and often earn less as adults. They pay the price throughout their lives,” he said.
Mr. Ban cited two new initiatives, the SUN Road Map for Scaling Up Nutrition, and the Thousand Day Movement, a nutritional programme extending from the start of each pregnancy until a child reaches the age of two, as a significant headway on MDG-1, the goal that combats hunger and poverty.
“It gives us a unique opportunity to bring the SUN into young lives everywhere,” he added. “SUN shines the light on our most precious and vulnerable resource.”