The first piece in ConHome's UK Aid series is written by Jess Espey, Senior Research and Policy Adviser at Save the Children UK. You can follow Jess on Twitter here.
Thirteen years ago world leaders made the bold and ambitious pledge to work towards eradicating global poverty, hunger and disease by 2015. There can be no doubt that these Millennium Development Goals were one of the most powerful and unifying agreements in political history.
As the deadline looms, there is still more to be done to achieve the far reaching promises, but largely they have been incredibly successful. Through global cooperation we have lifted 600 million people out of poverty and helped 56 million more children go to school; while 14,000 fewer children under the age of 5 now die each day than did in 1990?
These are the very real results of the commitment, dedication and focus of governments, charities, faith groups and businesses across the world.
The Secret Success of Smart Aid
We know that economic growth and political leadership have been key drivers of development progress in recent years. However we also know that smartly invested aid has been a secret success story.
For example, immunisation coverage for six major vaccine preventable diseases – pertussis, childhood tuberculosis, tetanus, polio, measles and diphtheria – has risen significantly since the World Health Organization (WHO) began its Programme on Immunisation in 1974.
At the time, only 5 per cent of the world’s children were immunised against the six key vaccine-preventable diseases. By 2010, DTP3 (three doses of vaccinations against diphtheria, tetanus and polio) coverage in the first year of life was estimated at 85 per cent. Polio is on the verge of eradication. Meanwhile deaths from measles, a major killer of children under five, fell by 78 per cent worldwide and by 92 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa between 2000 and 2008.
WHO and UNICEF have been major funders of national immunisation programmes, and since the formation in 2000 of the GAVI Alliance, global health partnership of public and private sector organizations, substantially larger donor funds have been mobilised. These funds have enabled the introduction of new vaccines and increased coverage of longer-standing vaccination programmes. The UK is a key supporter of GAVI ; and over a five year period our commitment will vaccinate one child every two seconds, immunising 80 million children in all and saving 1.4 million lives.