My interest in international development has stemmed from a passion for social justice issues, and a curiosity about other cultures which has taken me travelling through South East Asia, India, Europe and North Africa in recent years.
I was keen to get involved with the United Nations conference on Advancing Global Health because of the UN’s role as the most prominent forum for multilateral development efforts. I feel strongly about the importance of a multilateral approach to development, rather than an approach that is unilateral and “top-down”. Additionally, the conference is the annual platform for collaboration between the UN and Non-Governmental Organisations, which I see as representing the wider importance of collaboration between government and civil society.
The Millennium Development Goals aim to bring about the kind of social and economic conditions which many people in Australia enjoy and take for granted. In countries with well established and well funded health care systems, it can be easy to forget that elsewhere in the world mortality rates for children under five can exceed 100 in every 1,000, average life expectancy can be no more than 40 years, and the proportion of the population infected with HIV can exceed 15 per cent.
I think the importance of health is something everyone can relate to, as demonstrated recently by important public discussion over Australia’s own healthcare system. Even here in Australia we don’t have to look far to see where drastic improvements in health care are needed – the gaping differences between the life expectancies for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians being one potent example.
Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals faces many challenges. However, I believe increased public awareness of the commitment UN members have made to the goals increases their public responsibility to produce outcomes. Furthermore, increased awareness sparks support for the development initiatives of both international NGOs and grassroots organisations.
These days, we are all global citizens. In Australia we enjoy the benefits of increased international interconnectedness on a daily basis. I believe that with global rewards comes global responsibility, and I encourage others to get involved with the Making Health Global campaign.