If the global community wants to accelerate its pace in meeting the Millennium Development Goals while also bridging the ever-widening disparities within nations, it needs to shift its focus towards the most disadvantaged and poorest children of the world. Besides being a moral victory, this strategy would be practical too since this alone can save more lives per US $1 million spent than the current path, according to a recently released UNICEF study.
Key findings of the study include an equity-focused approach improves returns on investment, averting many more child and maternal deaths and episodes of stunting than the alternative. This year, the study reveals that, in the push to meet the development goals by their 2015 target date, the very poor are falling further and further behind.
Using the equity approach, a US $1 million investment in reducing under-five deaths in a low-income, high-mortality country would avert an estimated 60% more deaths than the current approach. Besides it states that since national burdens of disease, ill health and illiteracy are concentrated in the most impoverished child populations, targeting these children with essential services can greatly accelerate progress towards the MDGs and reduce disparities within nations.
“Our findings challenge the traditional thinking that focusing on the poorest and most disadvantaged children is not cost-effective,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF’s Executive Director. “An equity-focused strategy will yield not only a moral victory – right in principle – but an even more exciting one: right in practice.”
In 2000, world leaders adopted the UN Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to make the world a more equitable place and setting out a series of time-bound targets that have become known as the MDGs. Every year, UNICEF’s flagship ‘Progress for Children’ report monitors progress towards these targets.
The new findings are presented in two publications: Narrowing the Gaps to Meet the Goals and Progress for Children: Achieving the MDGs with Equity, UNICEF’s signature data compendium.
Complete study can be accessed at: http://www.unicef.org/policyanalysis/media_55913.html