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World Vision: Global leaders ‘dismally off-track’ for reaching their own goals addressing poverty

  • Governments lack political will to implement programs preventing millions of child deaths each year, agency says.

  • Humanitarian agency rededicating efforts; earmarking $450 million for maternal and child health programs.
New York, September 24, 2008—As the world’s leaders convene at the United Nations this week, one leading international humanitarian organization contends progress is “dismally off-track” for meeting 2015 goals for helping address poverty and injustice.

“If the heads of state, business and financial leaders and others ignore our call and fail to act, the Millennium Development Goals will, quite simply, be unattainable,” says Dean R. Hirsch, president of World Vision International. “This month’s meeting is the last chance for the international community to demonstrate its resolve and honor its commitment to the world’s poorest people.”

Hirsch noted that among all eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), reaching numbers 4, 5 and 6 — reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating AIDS, malaria and other diseases — is foundational to addressing severe poverty in the developing world. Moreover, he noted nations have the resources, including food and medicine.

“We have the solutions to implement and thereby prevent the deaths of millions of children each year,” says Hirsch, who is addressing world leaders and UN officials on Sept. 25 in a series of meetings on the MDGs. “But governments lack the political will.”

The goals were established in 2000. Meetings this week at the UN are a reminder that world leaders are halfway to the date they set to accomplish the goals. For more information on each of the goals, visit

Hirsch believes that good health is fundamental to breaking the cycle of poverty and is foundational to a child’s well-being.

“Recognizing this, World Vision has placed community-based maternal and child health at the core of our global health strategy, and we are investing heavily in efforts to help achieve MDGs 4, 5 and 6,” Hirsch said.

That investment currently totals about $450 million on health programs — $150 million in funding and another $300 million in donated medical supplies, such as pharmaceuticals. This amount exceeds the entire public health budgets of several developing nations, including Uganda, Mongolia and Zambia, according to World Bank statistics.

“World Vision is increasing its commitment with more money and more staff to more effectively target community-based maternal and child health and promote access to primary care,” Hirsch says. “We believe that in three years we can significantly reduce malnutrition 20 to 30 percent for children under 5 in at least 1,000 communities and improve the health of up to 5 million children.”

Speaking at various forums on the MDGs, Hirsch notes that if national leaders accept responsibility for the inadequate progress toward the MDGs, and agree to replicate and scale up successes, there is “a genuine possibility of fulfilling the promises made to the world’s poorest people in 2000.

“Our collective challenge — governments, the private sector, humanitarian organizations, civil society groups and others — is to remedy a gross violation of the most basic rights to clean water, adequate food, [and] basic health care that currently leads to millions of children and women dying annually from easily preventable causes,” Hirsch says. “This is a moral imperative. Every child who dies in extreme poverty represents an unacceptable loss of human potential.”

For interview with Word Vision staff, please contact Dean R. Owen at 253.906.8645 or

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World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. We serve all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit 

Who Is World Vision?

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice..

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