Recommendations for Post-2015 Development “Roadmap” Include Targets on Maternal, Sexual and Reproductive Health

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By: Sarah Blake, MHTF consultant

Yesterday, the United Nations High Level Panel of Eminent Persons (HLP) released A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty And Transform Economies Through Sustainable Development, a report which sets out a “roadmap” for eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 and advancing sustainable development. The report lays out an agenda for the period following the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, and calls for five “big transformative shifts” in global economic and political structures:

  1. Leave no one behind.
  2. Put sustainable development at the core
  3. Transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth.
  4. Build peace and effective, open and accountable institutions for all.
  5. Forge a new global partnership.

From the report:

We believe that these five changes are the right, smart, and necessary thing to do. But their impact will depend on how they are translated into specific priorities and actions. We realized that the vision would be incomplete unless we offered a set of illustrative goals and targets to show how these transformative changes could be expressed in precise and measurable terms.

The HLP proposes 12 illustrative goals, each supported by five targets. Of these, Goal 4, “To Ensure Healthy Lives,” builds on the health Millennium Development Goals, including MDG 5, on maternal health. Targets 4c. and 4d. propose updating the MDG 5a. and 5b. targets on reducing maternal mortality by 75 percent and securing universal access to reproductive health to:

  • 4c. Decrease the maternal mortality ratio to no more than x per 100,000
  • 4d. Ensure universal sexual and reproductive health and rights.

What is more, Goal 4, which also seeks to eliminate preventable newborn and child deaths and reduce the burden of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis is centered on a call toto address inequities in access to health care services:

The Panel chose to focus on health outcomes in this goal, recognizing that to achieve these outcomes requires universal access to basic healthcare. Health outcomes are often determined by social, economic and environmental factors. Discrimination can create barriers to health services for vulnerable groups and lack of protection leaves many individual and families exposed to sudden illness and the catastrophic financial this can bring. Investing more in health, especially in health promotion and disease prevention, like vaccinations, is a smart strategy to empower people and build stronger societies and economies.

As with the MDGs, issues that shape maternal health are included throughout the proposed goals. Perhaps most notably, Goal 2, which seeks to advance gender equality, includes targets for preventing and eliminating “all forms of violence against women” and ending child marriage.

In a statement responding to the report, UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin praised the report:

“UNFPA strongly believes that women and girls should have the means to exercise their right to make choices on their health, particularly their sexual and reproductive health, freely and without coercion,” said Dr. Osotimehin. “The Eminent Persons’ report shows, once again, that investing in women’s health is not only the right thing to do, but also smart economics. We also fully support their proposals to decrease maternal death and ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.”

Coming just as the Women Deliver conference concluded in Kuala Lumpur – with a discussion of “The Development Agenda Through a Woman’s Lens,” and a call to invest in the health and rights of girls and women – the recommendations come at a time when the links between maternal health outcomes and challenges such as securing access to quality health services, including family planning, ending child marriage and improving the quality of health data are particularly bold. As the UN process moves from developing recommendations to the formal debate that will set the post-2015 development agenda, some issues remain to be defined – for example, the “x” in the maternal mortality target – but the energy and evidence in support of a comprehensive approach to improving maternal health are clear.

For more on the HLP recommendations and the UN post-2015 process, visit and Women Deliver’s page on the post-2015 process; and read news coverage from IRIN, the Associated Press, The Guardian, and the UN News Centre.

 For more of the MHTF’s coverage of the 2013 Women Deliver conference, including Countdown2015’s latest report on progress toward the MDGs on maternal, newborn and child health, read our blog posts on Women Deliver 2013, or visit our Storify page or Twitter feed