WHA66: Statement on MDG's and Post 2015 Agenda

24 May 2013

Statement to the 66th session of the World Health Assembly

on agenda item MDG and Post 2015 Health Development Agenda


CLICK HERE for the full PDF version

Thank you, Chair, for giving me the opportunity to address the distinguished members of the World Health Assembly on behalf of Medicus Mundi International and the People’s Health Movement.

We welcome the prospect of a global commitment to sustainable and equitable development in drafting the post-2015 agenda. However, we strongly believe that identifying key lessons from the MDGs is a critical step towards ensuring that the post-2015 framework will not replicate the identified shortcomings of the MDGs. Indeed, the MDG approach- that was based on a fragmented and quantitative framework- taught us that isolating goals from their context is not effective. 


The values and principles expressed in the Millennium Declaration were lost in implementation. It was an opportunity lost and we had to be satisfied with a few short term achievements. Progress was measured in terms of country averages and, as a consequence, it did not reflect the persistence of inequity and poor conditions of health in the most under-served areas and among the poorest and most marginalized communities. The MDGs were conceived, defined and implemented in a top-down process. Issues of

governance, participation and empowerment were insufficiently addressed.

We'd like to emphasize that the MDGs failed to address inequity in health. Health outcomes will not improve merely through an increase in per capita income without concrete policies aimed at  balancing distribution of power and resources. The new development agenda must include the achievement of equity within countries and between countries as a top priority.


The MDGs presumed that development could be achieved largely through the medium of international aid; this is an illusion which has served to divert attention from the deeper political issues of structural imbalances that continue to exist. The prevailing ‘charity’ model needs to be replaced by a human rightsbased approach with clearly delineated responsibilities and strong accountability mechanisms involving communities, peoples organizations and civil society.


“Today’s Global Challenges” merely touch on the surface of underlying problems. Sustainable and equitable development - including governance reform and the restructuring of economic and political relationships – will be achieved only through new approaches to national and global decision-making, based on popular participation, direct democracy, solidarity, equity and security.


Addressing the post-2015 agenda must involve re-thinking the concept of development. “Development” must not be equated solely with economic growth and industrialization; it must include cultural and institutional development; and include the rich world as well as low and middle-income countries. The right to health will not be achieved unless the post-2015 is based on such a comprehensive and holistic approach to development.

Thank you.

News and Analysis: