Global Progress Against Poverty, Disease in Jeopardy, Gateses Warn

Global Progress Against Poverty, Disease in Jeopardy, Gateses Warn

Shifting political priorities, instability, and budget cuts could undermine the world's commitment to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals and jeopardize the future progress needed to eliminate extreme poverty and diseases by 2030, a report from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation warns.

Produced in partnership with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Goalkeepers: The Stories Behind the Data (HTML or 44 pages, PDF) highlights progress to date on eighteen SDG data points focused on health and well-being — including child and maternal deaths, stunting, access to contraceptives, HIV, malaria, extreme poverty, financial inclusion, and sanitation — with case studies and innovative leaders' first-person accounts about improvements on select targets. Released during the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, the report also presents three projected scenarios through 2030 — with current approaches and spending levels; with strong leadership, innovation, and investment; and with less focus and funding.

"Leaders everywhere need to take action now to put us on the path we set for ourselves" when UN member states adopted the goals in 2015, Bill and Melinda Gates warn in the report, or the world envisioned in those goals "will remain out of reach." The Goalkeepers report will be published annually through 2030.

Without breakthrough vaccines or other innovations, many targets may not be met by 2030 even in the best-case scenarios, the report suggests. For example, the rate of maternal mortality fell from 275 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 179 in 2016, and is projected to fall to 138 if current approaches and spending levels are maintained and to 104 with additional funding and progress, yet these levels are well above the target of seventy.

"This report comes at a time when there is more doubt than usual about the world's commitment to development," the Gateses state in the report. "Take it from the point of view of justice, or take it from the point of view of creating a secure and stable world: development deserves our attention."

Separately, IHME, which received a $279 million commitment from the Gates Foundation this year, published a paper in the medical journal The Lancet that found fewer than 5 percent of nations are expected to reach many health-related targets, including road injury mortality, tuberculosis, childhood obesity and overweight, intimate partner violence, and suicide mortality. IHME's updated SDG visualization tool enables users to compare progress between countries and indicators. In 2016, Singapore had the highest SDG index score — which takes into consideration performance across all thirty-seven health-related SDG indicators — followed by Iceland and Sweden, while the United States ranked twentieth.

"With these findings, health officials in countries can better distinguish longstanding challenges from emerging ones," said IHME director Christopher Murray, "as well as revise and reorient programs needed to meet their nations' goals."