Jun 14, 2010

Global Health Council 2010 Conference

WHEN:Jun 14, 2010LOCATION:Washington, DCTHEME:Dateline 2010: Global Health Goals & MetricsINFORMATION:Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert St., NW
Washington, DC 20008 USA

What are goals? The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines, in its first instance, a goal to be "the terminal point of a race."

2010 is a landmark year for many goals within in the global health community - ICPD, Universal Access, among others. Perhaps the most omnipresent of all development commitments are those of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In 2000, the world agreed, at least in theory, to support eight key actions to improve the lives of the world's poor that comprise the MDGs. But 15 years is not enough to eliminate hundreds of years of poverty, war and inequity.

Was it all for naught? Do we give up now? The answer is, quite simply, NO.

A further look at Merriam Webster's definition reveals that it is "the end toward which effort is directed." Goals are the ideals that guide and unite the scope of our work. They keep us focused on what needs to be done and stimulate our innovative thinking power.

In many ways, creating better health for all is similar to constructing a building, with the MDGs being a blueprint. What we have been creating, in the last 10 years since their debut, has been the foundation from which to build programs to further development. The MDGs, along with other global health commitments, have provided a common framework by which we can discuss development and our common goal.

In setting these goals, we have seen a greater commitment at the international and country levels. Moreover, we have seen more accountability and greater partnerships. Technology and improved methods of communication have greatly enhanced the way we not only track and measure progress, but also share results and challenges. An increased demand for transparency has allowed for greater accountability at all levels to ensure that the funding is going where it is supposed to go.

The great thing about mile markers is that they allow us to assess our progress - and thus to know when we have arrived at success. In the case of development goals, the last several years have given us the added advantage of better technology, a greater collective knowledge, and, perhaps most important, an increase in collaboration.

Metrics provide the tools to assessing our progress. Without them, we can't determine how far we've come, but more importantly, quantify what we've learned to accelerate progress. Moreover, metrics provide a common language by which we can compare outcomes.

Rome wasn't built in a day. Neither was the Taj Mahal or the Great Wall. But they all started with a grand - seemingly unattainable - plan.

Failure to meet these goals in a timely manner may be inevitable. But we often don't know what we are capable of until we try. Setting the bar high stimulates the imagination and innovation. And as with every project, unexpected challenges are the norm - conflict, natural disasters, epidemics and the like. The current financial crisis has greatly impeded short-term progress in reaching these goals. But these challenges have not derailed our determination to fulfilling our commitments. Yes, we have a long way to go, but we have also come a long way in achieving them. Indeed, even in trying to achieve them, we have already provided better health to millions of people around the world.

On June 14, 2010, more than 2,500 practitioners, global health and world leaders, activists, multi-lateral organizations, the public and private sectors, members of academia, and researchers will descend upon Washington, D.C. to discuss global health's goals and metrics at the Global Health Council's 37th Annual International Conference. Join us to celebrate and see how far we've come.

Did you know?

The leading causes of maternal deaths are hemorrhage, infections, unsafe abortions, high blood pressure leading to seizures, and obstructed labor.

Source:United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 2010

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