Hundreds of faces from hundreds of different places. Nameless faces. Young. Old. Northerner. Southerner. These are the faces that will reduce child mortality, end poverty and hunger, combat HIV/AIDS.
They’ve already been working at it for decades, and speaking to them at the opening ceremony, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged them not to give up.
These unrecognisable faces belong to the delegates and volunteers who have come to Melbourne this week as the voices of the voiceless in discussions on global health.
And they’re hoping their voices will carry all the way to the New York Millennium Development Goals Summit on September 20.
“In just a few weeks, world leaders will meet in New York to push for greater progress with the MDGs,” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said.
“There have been successes on many fronts including greater HIV treatment and considerable success in controlling malaria, tuberculosis and related tropical disease. But we still have some distance to go.
“We need to hear your (the NGOs’) voices. We need you now more than ever.”
Joining forces for progress
Appearing via video link, Mr Ban wasn’t stewing on the failures.
But he was honest about the state of maternal health since the MDGs were set.
“This is the area where we are most behind, yet evidence shows this is also where we can get the biggest return on our investment,” he said.
“We have the know how to build a strong health systems, we have the resources to ensure that women have access to the services they need when and where they need them and we have the global strategy for women’s and children’s health, which brings together all stake holders.”
More than 500,000 women in developing countries die every year in childbirth or during pregnancy.
Mr Ban called on governments, NGOs, foundations and the public to work together with the UN to help reduce this.
“Partnership will be crucial if we are to end preventable death. Your role is invaluable. You have the passion and networks to spread our messages far and wide. Thank you for joining forces,” he said.
The road to the New York Summit
Mr Ban wasn’t alone in urging the public to speak out.
UN Under-Secretary-General for communications and public information Kiyo Akasaka also emphasised how important every voice is.
“This conference is a crucial opportunity for your voices to be heard in September in New York,” he said.
He urged not just NGOs, but everyone to continue to make real progress in the fight to achieve global health.
Article written by Elisa Scarton