[Easttimorstudies] Medical Journal of Australia Editorial

Jennifer Drysdale jenster at cres10.anu.edu.au
Wed May 24 11:48:56 EST 2006

Medical Journal of Australia


Australia’s role in promoting achievement of the Millennium Development Goals
Anthony B Zwi and Natalie J Grove
MJA 2006; 184 (3): 103-104

We ignore global inequalities at our peril

Nearly 10 years ago, the Simons Review of the 
Australian Aid Program proposed that eradicating 
poverty should be a major focus, that the voices 
of recipient countries should be heard, and that 
greater accountability, as well as evaluation, 
information sharing and research, were 

Fast forward to 2005, to a globalised world with 
the “war on terror” and national security at 
centre stage. From the Indian Ocean tsunami to 
Hurricane Katrina, from the Kashmir earthquakes 
to the silent emergencies in Darfur, Niger and 
Uganda, disasters disproportionately affect the 
poor and marginalised. There are now increasing 
inequalities within and between states, 
heightened concerns about peace, security and 
development, and threats to human rights and fundamental freedoms.

In September 2005, world leaders assessed the 
progress made towards meeting the Millennium 
Development Goals (MDGs), a set of globally 
agreed development objectives for the year 2015. 
Three goals ­ reducing child mortality, improving 
maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria 
and other diseases ­ have a specific health 
focus. For each goal, targets have been 
established, but are unlikely to be met 
The United Nations Development Program identifies 
aid, trade and security as crucial to achieving 
the MDGs.<http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/184_03_060206/#0_i1091616>3

As the federal government is preparing a White 
Paper on its aid program, Australia has an 
opportunity to reshape its role as a global citizen.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, announced on 13 
September 2005 that Australia’s official 
development assistance will be increased to $4 
billion by 2010. While this commitment is 
welcome, Australia’s contribution will still be 
only 0.35% of its Gross National Income in that 
year, well below the UN-proposed target of 0.7% by 2015.

It is particularly important to ensure that the 
available funds are used to eliminate poverty and 
support development, the objectives of the MDGs. 
This will mean focusing on the core issues of 
poverty eradication, enhancing social justice, 
promoting equity, and delivering basic health and education services.

In Asia and the Pacific, five countries, 
including Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea, are 
not expected to achieve even one of their targets 
for the high priority indicators ­ and 14 other 
countries are not on track for more than half of 

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