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Progress on health goals for poor

Far Fewer children are dying and HIV, malnutrition and tuberculosis are falling because of work towards the Millennium Development Goals on health, the World Health Organisation said yesterday. Some countries had made huge leaps but others may struggle to meet some of the 2015 targets, said the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its annual health report for 2010. The targets were set in 2000 in a move to drive global policy to tackle issues such as poverty, hunger, ill-health and lack of access to clean water.Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mozambique and Rwanda had made progress on child mortality rates the report said. But there are still huge gaps between the states of health in some countries.

Overall, the key findings were that fewer children aged under five are dying, fewer children are underweight, the number of new HIV infections had fallen, more mums were getting a skilled health worker to help them give birth and more people can get hold of safe drinking water.But progress on sanitation, was not so good. In 2008, 2.6 billion people had no access to a hygienic toilet and 1.1 billion were still defecating in the open the report found. Bad sewerage systems can spread dangerous infections such as hepatitis and cholera. Africa had made the slowest progress with the percentage of the population using toilets or latrines actually rising from 30 per cent in 1990 to 34 per cent in 2008.

With only five years left until the 2015 deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on world leaders to attend a summit in New York on 20-22 September 2010 to boost progress towards the targets. “In the decade since the goals were first agreed, we have learned a great deal about what works, and where we need to focus our efforts,” Mr Ban said. “Evidence shows that the Goals can be achieved, even in the poorest countries, when good policies and projects are backed by adequate resources.” He said that the targets have triggered huge global efforts in the fight against poverty, hunger, disease and environmental destruction, but added that “we can and must do more, especially given the growing impact of climate change, increasing global hunger, and continuing fallout from the economic and financial crisis. Our world possesses the knowledge and resources to achieve the goals.” Failing to meet the goals, Mr Ban said "would be an unacceptable failure, moral and practical."

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