6 The Millennium Development Goals, infectious disease and public health
While there have been enormous strides in improving public health in all countries worldwide during the twentieth century, through the approaches described and illustrated in this course, there is still a huge gap between the health of the poorest people and the rest.
In this century, public health approaches, including slum clearance, are central to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted by the United Nations at its Millennium Summit in 2000 (Box 5).
Box 5 United Nations Millennium Declaration
The United Nations’ 2000 Millennium Development Goals resolution on development and poverty eradication is summarised as follows.
Resolved, by the year 2015: to halve the proportion of the world’s people whose income is less than one dollar a day and the proportion of people who suffer from hunger; to halve the proportion of people who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water; to ensure that children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling and that girls and boys will have equal access to all levels of education; to reduce maternal mortality by three quarters, and under-five child mortality by two thirds, of their current rates; to have halted and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, the scourge of malaria and other major diseases that afflict humanity; to provide special assistance to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
Resolved, by 2020: to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers.
Note that the MDGs summarised in Box 5 cannot be separated into those that relate to infectious disease and those that do not. People who live in poverty in urban slums and shanty towns cannot protect themselves from sources of infection; children who are frequently ill cannot complete their schooling.