Margaret Chan Outlines ‘Checklist’ for Health MDGs’ Success

A medical staff checks on a pregnant woman in Delhi, India. The results in Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 are most disappointing, according to Margaret Chan, World Health Organization's director-general. Photo by: P. Virot / WHO

World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan stated what steps should be taken in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for improving the health of women and children.

“First, we have to be clear about priorities and where we have to do more,” Chan writes in the Ideas for Development blog.

She adds that the results in MDG 4 and 5, or improving women and children’s health, are most disappointing.

“Reducing the number of women that die in childbirth is the major challenge,” Chan says. “So we have to be clear that it is the outcome - fewer preventable deaths among women and children - not a program or an intervention - that is the real priority.”

She also outlined on a checklist what she referred to as “the elements necessary for success”:

-   “Well-trained and adequately paid workforce

-   Financing policies that protect people from impoverishment when they fall sick

-   Information on which to base policy and management decisions

-   Logistics that get medicines and vaccines to where they are needed

-   Well-maintained facilities organized as part of a referral network

-  Leadership that provides clear direction and harnesses the energies of all stakeholders - including communities.”

Chan emphasizes that the presence of better health systems is needed and warns against shifting resources from one set of initiatives to another.

“We must not rob Peter to pay Paul…no retreat from commitments - but no retreat into separate silos either. Synergy and integration are the watchwords,” she says.

About the author

  • Chiden Balmes

    Chiden, a correspondent based in Seoul, focuses on computer-assisted reporting to provide international development professionals with practical business and career information. He also contributes to the Development Newswire and the Global Development Briefing, two of the world's highest-circulation development publications.