General Assembly President stresses link between peace and sustainable development
At a United Nations General Assembly debate today, the body’s President said that stamping out poverty goes hand in hand with achieving peace, urging all States to step up their efforts in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight ambitious targets to stamp out poverty and other ills by 2015.
“Durable peace and sustainable socio-economic development are inextricably linked,” President Srgjan Kerim said today at the GA debate on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the causes of conflict and promotion of peace and development in Africa and efforts to halt malaria.
“Eradicating poverty and promoting development not only saves lives that would have otherwise been lost to hunger and disease, it also strengthens the capacity of States to ensure durable peace,” he added.
Mr. Kerim noted that “commendable progress” has been made by NEPAD in crucial areas such as infrastructure development, agriculture, health and education, but “clearly there is still a long road ahead.”
He emphasized that, as enshrined in NEPAD’s principles, “African ownership and leadership is critical, and must continue to guide responses to the challenges that lie ahead.”
One fifth of Africa’s population lives in areas wracked by conflict, and security on the continent can be bolstered through the readiness of the international community – including African States – to respond to conflicts, the President said.
While significant hurdles, including limited funding and capacity, must still be overcome to eliminate malaria, Mr. Kerim voiced hope that interventions such as insecticidal nets and a possible vaccine will make great progress in combating the disease.
“The issues before us in this debate call for the active involvement of all States, and illustrate the necessity for Member States to recommit themselves to implementing the Millennium Development Goals,” he stated.
Also speaking at the debate, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pointed out that although many African nations have made great strides towards achieving the MDGs, “overall, the continent is not on track to reach these development targets by 2015.”
Extreme poverty – exacerbated by the lack of access to a basic education, health care and adequate nutrition – “continues to prevent millions of talented, promising young Africans from fulfilling their potential,” he said.
Unified UN support, in areas such as governance and institutional capacity-building, is key to helping consolidate recent positive changes in Africa, he noted.
“We must ensure that the UN plays its role to the fullest extent possible along the peace continuum – from conflict prevention to peace-making, peacekeeping and peacebuilding,” he said.
Most of the 1 million lives – mainly infants, young children and pregnant women – claimed by malaria each year are in Africa, the Secretary-General said.
“We now have the tools and increased resources to control malaria. But there is no time to waste. Every minute we deliberate, another two children die needlessly,” he said.
Yesterday, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that great gains have been made in the fight against malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.
“In Sub-Saharan Africa, Malaria kills at least 800,000 children under the age of five each year,” said the agency’s Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said. “Controlling malaria is vital to improving child health and economic development in affected countries. Studies show that malaria disproportionately affects the poorest people in these countries, and so contributes to their further impoverishment.”
A new report – entitled “Malaria and Children which prepared by UNICEF on behalf of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM) – said that from 2004 to 2006, the supply of insecticide-treated nets has surged, with annual production more than doubling from 30 to 63 million. Another large increase in production is expected by the end of this year.
In sub-Saharan Africa, one third of children with fevers receive anti-malarial medicines, but few countries have boosted their coverage since 2000 and many children receiving treatment are being given less effective medicines.
The new report also noted that nearly all sub-Saharan African countries have changed their national drug policies to support the use of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACT), a new and more effective malaria treatment. In addition, many more children are expected to receive effective malaria treatment in the near future.
Despite successes, the use of insecticide-treated nets falls short of global targets and too few children are receiving effective treatment. The report recommends that donors and national governments must bolster their commitments to improve malaria programmes, through efforts such as community-based programming and continued integration of malaria programming into existing service delivery mechanisms.