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MDG Summit: Make-or-break opportunity

Ten years ago world leaders made an historic commitment to eradicate extreme poverty and improve the health and welfare of the world’s poorest people within 15 years.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have mobilised political and financial efforts around the world to fight poverty in a way that previous international targets have not. Since 1990, 36 million children’s lives have been saved.

This is a success, but there has not been nearly enough progress to date. The world is still massively off track from reaching the target of a two thirds reduction in child mortality (MDG4) and a three quarters reduction in maternal mortality (MDG5) in the next five years.

What’s more, even in countries where there has been progress, some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities have been left behind.

While the goals have meant that some children have benefitted from better healthcare, nutrition, sanitation and education, other groups — girls, isolated rural populations, slum dwellers, ethnic minorities, and those in conflict zones, have been neglected.

This is both a moral failure, and a threat to future progress. Children are the future and investing in them translates into the long-term gains for development.

As world leaders – including the Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg – meet in New York next week to review progress on the goals to date they must prioritise the needs of the poorest.  They have a make-or-break opportunity to accelerate progress and save 15 million children’s lives in the process. They must use it.

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