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Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health and Environment, Dr. Sheila Campbell-Forrester, has reiterated Jamaica’s call for an extension of the deadline for achieving the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals(MDGs) beyond 2015.
Dr. Campbell-Forrester said that the current global financial meltdown will negatively impact on the country’s health spending and services, and its ability to meet the deadline for the health goals.
She was representing Minister of Health and Environment, Rudyard Spencer, at a National Consultative Workshop on Jamaica’s National Report to the United Nations Annual Ministerial Review on International Development Goals and Commitments to Public Health, at the Planning Institute of Jamaica(PIOJ), Oxford Road, Kingston, on Wednesday( April 1).
Dr. Campbell-Forrester recalled that the extension was requested by small developing countries at last year’s World Health Assembly, against the background that current challenges, such as the financial crisis and the loss of skilled citizens, are affecting sustainable development.
“Our response in the health sector must be transformative and must focus on social justice. We cannot do everything all at once, but we can be strategic,” she said.
The Chief Medical Officer assured the audience, however, that the Government would strengthen its focus on primary health care, as Jamaicans are forced to spend less of their disposable income on medical care.
The eight UN MDGs include four which are directly related to the Ministry: reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; and ensure environmental sustainability.
The other MDGs are- eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; and develop global partnerships for development. The deadline is 2015.
The MDGs were drawn from the actions and targets contained in the Millennium Declaration adopted by 189 nations and signed by 147 heads of state and governments, during the UN Millennium Summit in September, 2000.
The national workshop is intended for countries that volunteer to present a comprehensive report of their progress towards development goals, at the Annual Ministerial Review of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Geneva, in July.
Jamaica will be among some nine countries that will present national reports and national voluntary presentations at the meeting in July. Some of the other counties listed to present a report are China, Dominican Republic, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Japan and Sudan.
United Nations Resident Coordinator in Jamaica, Minh Pham, said that critical issues such as the financial meltdown and the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters, must be evaluated when the national report is being tabled.
“The implications of a financial meltdown, the implications of a recession, implications of a high debt service in the country, as to where do we go from here in terms of achieving the goals that we have established for ourselves. I think that it is critical that the paper address those issues, as well,” said Mr. Pham.
Under Secretary in the Multilateral Affairs Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ambassador Vilma McNish, said the policies and experiences reviewed through the national voluntary presentation should offer learning tools for the country’s overall development process.
“Our report should therefore highlight the initiatives, issues, policy directions and challenges Jamaica faces in pursuing its strategies in the area of public health, as well as other development goals,” said Ambassador McNish.
The 2005 World Summit Outcome mandated ECOSOC to hold an Annual Ministerial Review, in order to gear efforts towards the implementation of the United Nations Development Agenda. The ministerial review provides an opportunity for countries to make national voluntary presentations, which would be based on the countries respective national development strategies and their implementation.

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