MDGs – an electrifying experience

The UN Millennium Development Goals Summit is underway in New York. The New York Times reports on one aspect of development, guaranteeing regular supplies of electricity. For example …

In Nigeria, a major oil exporter with a population of about 155 million people, 76 million do not have electricity, (Fatih Birol) said. “If only 0.4 percent of their oil and gas revenues were invested in power production, they would solve the problem,” he said, “so it’s not just a question of money, it’s how the money is managed.”

lscn4010b.JPGElectricity is not the only issue that requires greater investment.  African countries have also been asked to designate 15% of their national budget for health, but as the New Vision explained, “UGANDA cannot allocate 15% of the national budget to health as agreed by the African Union (AU), a government minister has said.”

We need to recognize that all MDGs are interrelated. Malaria and electricity, for example, have connections.

  • Rapid Diagnostic Tests need to be stored at cool temperatures at national, regional and district health stores, and so air conditioners and fans are needed
  • When villages are electrified people can close doors to mosquitoes at night and use fans – and with light, children can read their school books on how to prevent diseases like malaria
  • Electricity ensures that laboratories run more efficiently and computers are able to analyze monitoring and evaluation data for enhance decision making
  • When schools of nursing, medicine, etc. have electricity, students can learn about malaria using the latest technology and access the internet to gain more knowledge on the disease

These direct and indirect connections between malaria and electricity demonstrate that endemic countries need to invest their resources to control and eliminate the disease. The MDGs are not something that stop in 2015. The projected gains in health and development status must be sustained beyond 2015 if malaria is to be eliminated – hopefully the political will to invest in health will be sustained, too.

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