September 16, 2008

Millennium Development Part IV: Maternal Health & HIV/AIDs

Millennium Development Goals five and six are closely related to goals three and four discussed last week. As we move on, it will become more apparent what an emphasis the United Nations has put on healthcare in the fight to eliminate poverty.

The fifth Millennium Development Goal is to “improve maternal health.” Maternal health encompasses not only prenatal and postnatal care, but also family planning and education in proper childcare. Therefore, this is actually a very broad statement and not much else. Included in this goal are pledges to reduce the maternal morality ratio by two-thirds, as well as achieve universal access to reproductive health. This first target does help to clarify the goal. However, the word “universal” in target two is so expansive that its inclusion can actually undermine the UN’s ability to achieve its goals.

One Step Forward:

Each year the world loses over 10 million mothers and children, and the fact remains that many of these deaths are from preventable diseases. Infante Sano, in association with the Boston’s Children’s Hospital, works to improve maternal health throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. By cooperating with locally established clinics and hospitals, members of Infante Santo are able to provide community healthcare workers with supplies and additional education specific to issues of maternal health. Because the organization works so closely with local citizens, they are able to catalyze long-lasting improvements in the communities’ already-established healthcare systems.

In the same vein, MDG six is a commitment to “combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases”. One would hope that combating both deadly and treatable diseases is not new to the international agenda. Target subsets do little to specify the goal, as target one is simply to, “halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS” and target two is to provide universal access to treatment for HIV and AIDS. The goal could benefit from more specified targets. For example, instead of providing universal access to treatment, it would be better to include a designation of the number of hospitals or treatment centers to be built by the year 2010.

One Step Forward:

Today, Cultural Canvas Thailand is working with Rejoice, a local nonprofit based out of Chiang Mai, Thailand to get HIV/AIDs treatment and education to those who so desperately need it. Rejoice services the large population of infected poor living in Chiang Mai as well as the surrounding area. Equipped with a mobile clinic, volunteers travel throughout the area to foster awareness regarding HIV prevention as well as to administer treatment to those already living with the illness. Volunteers are also needed to work at the Cultural Canvas office for clerical support as well as medication distribution from the home base.

If you are interested in doing your part to help save the millions of mothers and children dying each year, ask your local clinic if they have any volunteer opportunities. If you are interested in Infante Sano, please visit For more information about Cultural Canvas Thailand, see

This blog was written by Allison Tritt, a former high school English teacher, volunteer for Oxfam Japan and volunteer blogger with Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project. She blogs to foster global awareness and remind others that there is always a way to get involved. Please leave your comments and feel free to email Allison at with any questions!

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