Press Releases

    ECOSOC/6010
    3 July 2002

    Millennium Development Goals Not to Be Reopened or Redefined, Economic and Social Council Told, As High-Level Debate Continues

    Lack of Resources at Country Level Key Barrier to Achieving Development Goals

    NEW YORK, 2 July (UN Headquarters) -- Speaking this morning at the continuation of the Economic and Social Council's high-level debate for its 2002 session, Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, outlined ways the Council could stimulate global efforts to improve health and education and launch new approaches that could promote human resources as a principle engine for overall development.

    He said the fundamental development goals before the international community had been set out two years ago in the Millennium Declaration and would not be reopened or redefined. The role of the Council was to enable the attainment of those goals. Most importantly, the Council must generate a sense of urgency, because at the current rate, the Millennium Development Goals would not be met by 2015. It was therefore necessary to accelerate work in the areas of education, health and poverty eradication.

    Ensuring the full integration of education and health into poverty eradication strategies was also essential, he said. Efforts to reform and improve the quality and delivery of health and education services must be pursued as part of a multi-sectoral approach to poverty eradication and long-term economic growth. The international community needed to face up to the fact that one of the key barriers to achieving the Millennium Goals was the lack of adequate resources at the country level. The Council must maintain the focus on financing for human resources as part of its role in the follow-up to major international conferences.

    That sentiment was echoed by Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), as he launched the agency's new report on the status of the global AIDS epidemic. He said greater investment in human resources was vital. Cost-effective intervention without investment in human resources would not be enough. If AIDS was not brought under control, "we can forget about many of the Millennium Development Goals," he stressed.

    On the positive side, he said it was clear that the global response to AIDS was entering a new era. Greater resources were now being given to fight the disease, and there was evidence that the strategies being used in the struggle were working. Still, low and middle-income countries needed around $10 billion a year to fight the disease. At the moment the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was at the $3 billion mark. "So there was some distance yet to go."

    In addition to today's debate, which continued over the course of the afternoon, a panel discussion was held on "Health Priorities in Africa: Are We in the Right Direction for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Health?" During the discussion, which was hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), speakers examined the challenges that must be met in order to achieve the Millennium health goals for Africa and highlighted progress made in overcoming obstacles.

    The panel was chaired by Ivan Simonovic (Croatia), President of the Economic and Social Council. Participating were Awa Marie Coll Seck, Minister of Health of Senegal; Jeffrey Sachs, Office of the Secretary-General; David Nabarro, WHO; and Benson Morah, UNFPA.

    Also addressing the Council today were: Vice-Prime Minister of Croatia, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Andorra, Minister of Health of Mexico, Minister of Economic Planning and Regional Integration of Ghana, Minister of Education of Nigeria, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark (on behalf of the European Union), State Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Research of Romania, Secretary of State for Education of the Gambia, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs of Iran, Vice-Minister of Health and Social Assistance of Guatemala, Deputy Minister of International Development of Norway, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Japan, and the Permanent Secretary of the National Planning Commission of Namibia.

    Statements were also made by the representatives of the Republic of Korea, Egypt, China, United States, Bangladesh, Kenya, Peru, Pakistan and Nepal.

    The Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund also addressed the Council today, and a representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) spoke.

    Representatives for regional groups also spoke, including the Director-General of the European Community and the Managing Director of the Common Fund for Commodities.

    The Council is scheduled to meet again tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. to continue its general debate.

    Background

    The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) met this morning to adopt its agenda and open its general debate. [For background information on documents before the Council see press release ECOSOC/6007 of 1 July.]

    Introduction of Reports

    NITIN DESAI, Under-Secretary-General, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the report of the Secretary-General entitled "The contribution of human resources development, including in the areas of health and education, to the process of development." He said that for many years the focus of the high-level segment and several other United Nations conferences had been poverty, education and health. The central importance of the human being had been recognized in several forums throughout the 1990s. That focus had come to a head in the Millennium Declaration goals, he said. The prominence of a health- and education- related dimension had played a prominent part in several special sessions, including that on children and on HIV/AIDS. Most recently, the health and education dimension could be seen in the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

    How could the Economic and Social Council high-level segment add to that discussion? The goals, he said, had already been defined and would not be reopened or redefined. The role of the Economic and Social Council was to add value in four different ways. First, the Council must generate a sense of urgency. At the current rate, the goals of the Millennium Declaration would not be attained by 2015. It was therefore necessary to accelerate work in the areas of education, health and poverty eradication. Second, it was time to start integrating what had been done in the areas of health and education into the context of poverty eradication and into poverty-reduction strategies. The Council could assist in the effective integration of sectoral planning processes, including in the monitoring of performance. Third, it was time to recognize the cross-sectoral linkages between health and education, and between education and health and other sectors. Finally, the international community needed to face up to the fact that there was a lack of resources. One of the key barriers to achieving the Millennium Development Goals was the lack of adequate resources on the country level. Attaining the Millennium goals was going to require additional resources. He reiterated that the goals had been defined and the role of the Council was to add a sense of urgency, enabling the acceleration of the attainment of the Millennium goals.

    PETER PIOT, Executive Director, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), introduced a report prepared by UNAIDS on the status of the global AIDS epidemic. The launching of the report, which included country-by-country estimates of the number of people infected, would be followed by a conference on AIDS in Barcelona.

    He said the first major finding of the report was that the epidemic continued its expansion almost everywhere. "We are only at the beginning of what is now the largest epidemic in human history," he said. A "natural saturation point" had not yet been reached. The report illustrated the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS. In the next 20 years of the epidemic there would be an additional 68 million deaths because of AIDS if the current level of treatment did not change.

    Further, he said, the report provided figures on the number of people who had been treated with anti-retroviral drugs -- 730,000 people around the world. Most of those people lived in high-income countries, however. On the positive side, it was clear that a new era was being entered when it came to the global response to AIDS. "The world is waking up," he said. Greater resources were now being given to fight the disease, and there was more empirical evidence than ever that the strategies being used in the struggle were working.

    Very few countries had reached a point where HIV education programmes were covering the whole population -- that was the biggest problem at the moment, he said. Low- and middle-income countries needed around $10 billion a year to fight the disease. At the moment "we are at the $3 billion mark." So there was some distance yet to go. The Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was playing an important role, but funds must still increase.

    He said it would be vital that there should be a greater investment in human resources. Cost-effective intervention without investment in human resources would not be enough. If AIDS was not brought under control, "we can forget about many of the Millennium Development Goals." So it must be effectively dealt with. To achieve that, fighting AIDS must become part of the core business of every sector.

    Statements

    ZELJKA ANTUNOVIC, Vice-Prime Minister of Croatia, said only by substantially improving investment in human capital could the international community successfully tackle the challenges of the new millennium. Human resources -- namely, health and education -- needed to be integrated into all development policies and programmes, with the particular aim of addressing gender-based inequities. She added that human resources development must begin with an investment in children: any delay in ensuring adequate health and education for the world's youth would deprive future generations of fundamental development opportunities.

    She went on to say that given the magnitude of the challenges on the Council's agenda, building synergies between all pertinent stakeholders -- namely the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Bretton Woods institutions and civil society -- represented the "safest road map" towards achieving the essential development goals of the Millennium Declaration. Turning to education, she said Croatia faced many challenges, mainly in differences or preferences in teaching methods, that might favour traditional over modern or long-term over short-term education. But Croatia had realized that the only way to address those issues was to bring together all the parties, including students and their families, as well as teachers and public administrators.

    Thus far, she continued, the changes that had been introduced into the system were based on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) models, and decentralization of the educational system was allowing new social partnerships to grow, which would increase responsibility for local development. The reform of the education system would focus on three major areas, development of information and communication technology, accelerated scientific and technological inventions and the process of globalization.

    On the issue of health, her Government had adopted a relevant programme for 2000-2004, which promoted health and the improvement of the national health system as preconditions for overall development. The programme highlighted strategies to enhance preventive care and promote healthy lifestyles. Coordination of various ministries and the media had been invaluable to efforts to fully integrate the new programmes. At the same time, with its economy in transition, Croatia was struggling to match growing health and education needs with resources. But with the increased role education and health played in national economic development, Croatia's priority was to remain focused on upgrading the development of its human resources.

    CARSTEN STAUR, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said human resources development was an extremely important tool for providing developing countries with the necessary capacity to reach the ambitious goals set and agreed at the Millennium Summit and other international conferences. The Secretary-General's report had highlighted the fact that human resources development could help eradicate poverty through improved health, education and capacity building. National ownership was the key, and all must work to ensure that allocation of public resources, design of public polices and local investment served that goal.

    He said improved health remained one of the key elements in the overall development process. The European Union underscored the need to strengthen the health sector and to develop national policies and plans into which reproductive health care, population and gender issues were integrated. The developing countries continued to suffer the burden of many diseases which were preventable or at least manageable, and poor people were among the first to suffer the negative consequences of pollution and environmental degradation.

    In order to fully develop human resources, particularly in the face of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, more efforts were needed to improve national health systems in developing countries to ensure that those systems could provide adequate and equal care for all. He said the European Union Action Plan on Aid for Poverty Diseases in Developing Countries aimed at providing a comprehensive package of interventions for the three major communicable diseases: AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The Union also recognized that enhanced reproductive health care systems provided a critical foundation for efforts to tackle HIV/AIDS, to lower maternal and child mortality, and to promote gender equality.

    Turning to the central importance of education, he said the European Union remained strongly committed to the Millennium Development Goals and the Dakar Framework for Action. Education was one of the most powerful tools for reducing poverty and for creating economic growth, and every effort must be made to achieve the internationally agreed objectives, with the particular aim of addressing the current imbalance with respect to girls' education.

    He said that human resources development must be understood to involve capacity development. That was to say not merely the acquisition of skills, but ensuring the capacity to use them. Improving local capacities to achieve international development objectives was a universal responsibility. But care must be exercised, for good development policies must be home-grown. The capacities of developing countries must be adapted to the needs of a globalized world, not replaced by foreign capacities.

    The European Union, he continued, was convinced that international trade was an authentic engine for development and poverty eradication in many developing countries. It was firmly committed to taking a leading role in the negotiations outlined by the Doha Development Agenda, with special emphasis on providing market access for developing countries. The Union had in fact set the pace, with an "Everything but Arms" initiative, which provided for tariff- and quota-free access to European markets for all goods from the least developed countries (LDCs). The Union would increase assistance to strengthen long-term trade capacity, productive capacity and measures to alleviate supply side constraints in developing countries.

    JULIO FRENK, Minister of Health of Mexico, welcomed the new paradigm of human resources development, which recognized the overall development of individuals as a goal in itself. Within the framework of human resources, however, it was vital to acknowledge health and education as human rights. As human rights, health and education possessed intrinsic value, since they were the ultimate goals of development, as well as the actual instruments and moving forces for economic growth. Medium-income countries were facing a double challenge in their efforts to develop, because they were often divided societies where some were rich and the poor were left behind. But it was essential to include all the citizens of a society in development efforts. In that context, the Mexican Government had formulated a new strategy which promoted synergies between various social sectors as well as between government and society. He added that viewed in terms of the development of human resources, the strategy focused on strengthening capacities through education and health.

    His Government had taken action to transfer income to families in extreme poverty through scholarships, he said. Food supplements had been given out to low-income families, resulting in an increase in the size and weight of children. Health packages had also been made available. Furthermore, a body of productive policies on income had been formulated, generating prosperity in a gender-neutral manner. Another strategy sought to expand social protection through a national health insurance scheme. Again, that was an attempt to link social policies with economic policies. In all those efforts, he was convinced that the most valuable resource of the country was its citizens, the prime moving force for development. Mexico reaffirmed its commitment to international collective action, ensuring a shared responsibility for development and ensuring that the Monterrey Consensus should become a reality.

    JULI MINOVES-TRIQUEL, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Andorra, said he had co-chaired a ministerial round table this morning on food security for human resources development. It was a shameful fact that in a century characterized by a civilization of leisure, in which humanity was exploring space, many still lived in deplorable conditions. The main motor of general development was the development of human resources. Investment in education and health had a direct impact on the level of human capital and on the general level of development. Poor levels of health and pandemics had a devastating effect on development levels, while a good level of education enhanced human development, reduced inequalities and attenuated poverty. Therefore, investment in health and education must be sustained in a complementary manner.

    His country was a contributor to the World Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, he said. It would enable the drawing up of solid strategies and plans to fight those diseases. In the area of education, he welcomed the working group that the G-8 had set up to achieve the aims adopted at its Dakar, Senegal summit. Calling for follow-up to the objectives of the Assembly's special session on children, he said his country was focusing on taking part in programmes to improve the access of girls to education in developing countries. Thanks to the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt initiative, public expenditure on education in 18 African countries was expected to increase from about $2.5 billion in 1999 to an annual average of $3.4 billion in 2001 and 2002.

    However, he continued, it was a fact that in situations of armed conflict or post-conflict, investments in health and education were not only scarce but failed to reach their objectives. Prevention of conflicts was the prior condition for setting policies aimed at human resources development in the general development process. A culture of peace was a pillar in the struggle against conflicts. Children must be educated to respect peace and become familiar with human rights. Above all, their schooling must be guaranteed by keeping conflict at bay. International institutions ensuring peace and promoting human rights must be reinforced. His country had contributed to the drafting of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court that had entered into force on Monday. The prevention of crimes against humanity warranted a deep commitment.

    Since the Council's high-level segment in Geneva a year ago, he concluded, his country had created a department for development cooperation within its Foreign Affairs Ministry. It would help coordinate and progressively increase Andorra's contribution to building solidarity for humanity's important causes.

    PAA KWESI NDUOM, Minister of Economic Planning and Regional Cooperation of Ghana, said his country was committed to mobilizing all resources and allocating significant portions of its national budget to the key social sectors of health and education. They were investments in public goods with long gestation periods, but they were critical to unlocking potentials for growth and development. The Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy gave high priority to those two areas and to creating the infrastructure required for growth. Ghana was also committed to the rule of law, good governance and poverty reduction.

    The international community had the responsibility of creating the global environment to facilitate development, he said. Acting on the basis of commitments such as those deriving from the Doha Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) would bring that about. Complementary international action should provide quick and massive influxes of external financial and technical support where needed. Engagement should last over the medium to long term to ensure that developing countries absorbed the necessary policy actions on a sustainable basis.

    That, he said, required simultaneous engagement on concerns such as market access and relief from unsustainable external debts. Those concerns affected national capacities to mobilize and deploy domestic resources to meet development goals. That had a particular effect on human resources development in the areas of education and health.

    For that reason, he concluded, the rising levels of farm subsidies in Europe and North America were distressing, especially since developing countries were being encouraged to adopt liberal market reforms. The effect of the subsidies was to impede market access, which led to dumping in developing country markets and to an adverse impact on the capacity to develop human resources. The Action Plan recently adopted by the G-8 in Canada under the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) was welcome. It committed the better-resourced countries to mutually reinforcing actions to accelerate Africa's growth and make lasting gains against poverty.

    JULIO CESAR OVANDO CARDENAS, Vice-Minister of Public Health and Social Assistance of Guatemala, said that for a country such as his, which was one of contrasts and diversity, the challenge faced in the area of health and education was particularly daunting. He therefore wished to highlight the Government's accomplishments in those fields. In that regard he cited Guatemala's Health Code and the 2000-2004 National Health Plan.

    Other programmes being carried out dealt with such issues as expanding coverage, reproductive health, immunization, promoting the accessibility of medicines and improving nutrition. He noted that the Code of Health entrusted the Ministry of Health with responsibility for evaluating and supervising actions aimed at controlling sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. Some 5 million quetzales had been appropriated for activities carried out to fight such diseases.

    He said that in the area of education, Guatemala, without losing sight of the benefits of vocational and technical training, had committed to an educational reform whose centrepiece was the revitalization of public education at the various levels -- pre-primary, primary, secondary and university. The Ministry of Education would continue the school breakfast programme, in which 200 million quetzales a year were being invested.

    JAVAD ZARIF, Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran, said the United Nations system should focus on critical development issues such as the transfer of knowledge and technology, so that developing countries could build domestic capacities. The question before the Council was twofold: how to strengthen the development role of the United Nations system while enhancing the effectiveness of its development activities, including its support of national strategies, by promoting technology and know-how access and transfer.

    Adequate resources were not available to the United Nations for those activities, he said. The United Nations system was underfunded in its goal of helping developing countries face their challenges by designing and implementing policies and strategies for human resources development. The conclusions of the recently held Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development had demonstrated that shortfall. It was imperative that individual governments fulfil the commitments they had made at summit level.

    Furthermore, he said the preparatory meeting in Bali had agreed on a number of paragraphs on health and education, intended for the text to be finalized at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. Those paragraphs stated that the goals of sustainable development could be achieved only in the absence of widespread debilitating disease. They had also called for technical and technological assistance to help developing countries implement the "Health for All Strategy." It was vital for developing countries to have access to safe, effective and affordable drugs as well as medical technology. Likewise, the Bali text called for fulfilment of agreed goals on universal primary education for all children. The Johannesburg Summit could be a great success for humanity if the international community implemented Agenda 21 by the time it convened.

    On the issue of human resources development in his country, he cited a recent assessment in which the World Bank had found that "Iran has performed splendidly." The poverty rate had fallen since 1978 from 47 per cent to 15.5 per cent. Iran had built its foreign reserves, reduced poverty and ensured basic education for girls. It had paid much of its debt, lowered tariffs and removed trade barriers, all well ahead of schedule. With due acknowledgment to the World Bank, he said his country embodied national ownership in terms of the Government assuming primary responsibility in defining and implementing appropriate policies.

    However, since human beings were the focus of development, he said an enabling international environment was imperative. Sound macroeconomic policies must be conducive to high investments in human resource development in developing countries. Exclusionist policies could only have a negative impact on free trade and the integration of all States into the world economy. Also, the rapid resurgence of militarism had brought about huge increases in military spending. That drained the economies of developing countries, negatively impacting investments in human resources development. In keeping with the "Dialogue among Civilizations" and "Coalition for Peace" initiatives of his country, unilateral doctrines and policies prescribing substantial increases in military spending should be dismantled.

    MASAHIRO IMAMURA, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Japan, said nation-building was based on human resources development. Each nation needed to nurture its human resources according to its situation. Progress in development under each country's ownership could be made only if the human resources for receiving, digesting and developing capital and technology were solidly developed. It was therefore necessary to discuss how human resources development contributed to the process of development. Japan had consistently attached great importance to education and health in the process of modernization and development, he said.

    It was vital to emphasise the mutually reinforcing effects of education and health, he added. Japan, for instance, had introduced a nationwide school meal system immediately after World War II. When there had been food shortages all students -- including those who did not have enough food at home -- could attend school and focus on their studies thanks to that system. The school meal also contributed to greatly improving the nutrition of students. Every country was expected to take creative initiatives for human resources development according to its domestic circumstances.

    Japan had been playing a positive role in international cooperation to combat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, he said. In July 2000, it had announced a $3 billion support programme over five year, which was being steadily implemented. Japan had also pledged $200 million to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and played a central role in the management of the Fund by serving as vice-chairman of its Board. He added that Japan had just announced the new "Basic Education for Growth Initiative" which would provide $2 billion in aid over a five-year period beginning this year to support basic education in developing countries.

    ALFREDO LUIGI MANTICA, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, said today's debate was an important opportunity to demonstrate the important role the Council could play in combating poverty. Malnutrition, disease and illiteracy were the cause, not the effect, of poverty. Structural reforms of the industrialized countries to increase world growth rates, speeding up the extension of debt rescheduling and good governance were parts of the compact for development agreed on in Monterrey, which his country fully supported.

    Assistance to developing countries must increase through greater human resource support programme allocations, he said. His Government supported the Global Fund to combat AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Italy was very committed bilaterally and with the World Health Organization (WHO) to fight those three diseases.

    Investing in education meant investing in development and in peace, he said. Some 90 countries were not meeting the goal of guaranteeing access to primary education by 2015, he noted. Special attention must be given to training teachers, which should help improve access to and quality of education. Italy attached special importance to the role of information and communication technologies (ICT) in seeking to achieve the Millennium goals in the areas of education and health, he added. Freedom from hunger and disease and access to education had an important ethical value.

    YURI V. FEDOTOV, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said the development of healthy and educated human resources was becoming a key instrument of economic development. On the other hand, the ability of a State to fully cope with the benefits and challenges of globalization depended decisively on the availability of healthy and educated human resources.

    Despite difficulties that had emerged in recent years following its general systemic transformation, the education system in the Russian Federation had maintained its powerful scientific and organizational potential. It had been making increasing use of the benefits of the information and technological revolution. The National Action Plan, "Education for All", which focused on the development of basic education and on modernization of the entire Russian education system, had been implemented. He added that it was important to further international cooperation in the field of continuous lifelong education.

    Stressing the importance of health for development, he said his country's health priorities included facilitating access to basic drugs and primary medico-sanitary assistance for the poor, combating the most dangerous infectious diseases, and supporting the international fund for combating HIV/AIDS. He underlined the importance of tackling health issues in a holistic manner.

    ABERLARDO MORENO, Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, said it was impossible to conceive of the future of mankind without assuring the training of its builders. Important steps towards development had been proposed; nevertheless, the goals agreed upon were far from becoming a reality. He asked what had happened to the agreed goal of achieving "Education for All" by 2015. Efforts had not been strong enough; illiteracy persisted. Would it be possible to achieve any of the goals agreed on when 2 billion people across the world did not have access to medicine, when drinking water was still a dream for a large part of the world population? The gulf between the rich and poor countries was increasing day by day. In rich countries fewer then five per cent of children suffered malnutrition, against the 50 per cent of children suffering from malnutrition in developing countries.

    There was a new kind of economic colonialism, he said, which had resulted in the enlarged gap between the developed countries and those of the South. In addition, there had been a downturn in official development assistance (ODA) in the past decade, with the current level far below the promised 0.7 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of developed countries. There were also the problems of external third world debt, the lack of access to technology and knowledge, and unfair terms of trade. He noted that human resources development was indeed a vicious circle: without development there were no human resources, and without human resources there could be no development.

    In Cuba, in spite of the difficulties of the unjust genocidal blockade that had been imposed on his country for over 40 years, the Government had continuously pursued programmes in health and education. The Government attached major importance to the right of its citizens to education and health. In Cuba, 100 per cent of children attended school at the primary level, and 99.7 per cent on the secondary level. Free education, including at the university level, existed. The Government was currently planning to raise the educational level in Cuba even higher. The full enjoyment of health had been another right acquired by the Cuban people, he said. Even though HIV/AIDS was spreading extremely fast in several countries and regions, the Cuban Government had managed to keep the spread of HIV/AIDS at a low 0.05 per cent.

    RADU MIRCEA DAMIAN, State Secretary, Ministry of Education and Research of Romania, said his country's strategy for human resources development was an intrinsic part of its overall national development plan. Further, it was grounded in the country's social and economic context and consistent with the perspective of adhering to the criteria set by the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO). The development goals were attuned to projected demographic and macroeconomic evolutionary developments.

    He said his country considered good health central to the overall development process. Health care was seen as a social collective commodity. Guaranteed by Romania's Health Insurance Law, it was available to all regardless of ability to pay. Financing for the programme had increased. Loans from the World Bank and other bodies had supported reforms. Private practice had reappeared and family medicine had been established as a new specialty.

    Describing a vast variety of programmes in the diagnostic, preventive and treatment areas, he said European integration policy was a priority for the health system, and particularly for human resources. A recent assessment of Romania's short-term technical assistance needs by the European Union had found the Romanian medical professions to have an enormous commitment to high standards and enthusiasm for complying with European requirements.

    Likewise, he said education in his country was also considered a public good. The priority focus was a matter of legislation, with the emphasis on lifelong learning. It was provided free through the upper secondary levels, as well as for a number of State-supported places of higher education. Loans from both the World Bank and the European Union supported initiatives and programmes dedicated to developing the educational system, in which private education was becoming prominent. There were numerous initiatives to promote computer literacy, human rights and the interests of special groups and vulnerable people.

    OLAV KJORVEN, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, said it was hard to overstate the impact of education on development. If poverty reduction was the overarching Millennium Development Goal, education could be termed an overarching Millenium Development means. His Government had chosen education as the number one priority for development efforts in the years ahead. The education of girls was especially important. A majority of the 120 million children who did not attend school and the 880 million illiterate adults were girls and women.

    He said the priorities, plans and practices of the developing countries must be studied, as must the advice and support countries were getting from the donor community in the field of education. He also underlined the need to make more effective use of a rights-based approach to education -- every individual had the right to education, including every girl. He emphasized the importance of providing additional resources.

    He said health and education were intimately linked. The cycle could be a vicious one in countries where health and education services were lacking. The challenge was to make the cycle a virtuous, positive one. Real progress meant that efforts extended throughout the health sector and beyond. Ill health was the result of complex conditions arising from such things as environmental degradation, malnutrition, lack of political stability and conflict, and lifestyle choices. Broad economic policies -- also beyond the health sector -- mattered. That was why the World Summit in Johannesburg was so important.

    THORAYA OBAID, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said the greatest resource of any nation was its people. But today, many people remained trapped in poverty because they did not have the means to escape. They lacked resources, basic services and opportunities and the consequences were tragic, particularly for women. Poor maternal health was the leading cause of death and disability among women of child-bearing age in the developing world. As it stood today, almost half of all births in those countries occurred without a nurse, doctor or midwife present.

    Due to a lack of care and treatment, she continued, more than half a million women died each year -- one every minute -- the majority of whom were in Africa and Asia. And for every death, there were 20 or 30 other women that suffered injury and disability. That enormous toll on families and societies was more than a failure of public health care systems, it was a severe violation of one of the most basic human rights -- the right to life. It was incumbent on the international community to keep women and women's health issues as a top priority, and to ensure that internationally agreed objectives for reducing maternal mortality and increasing gender equality were met.

    She said that all women needed encouragement and education in their youth, as well as the power to make choices when they became adults. They all needed basic services such as reliable health information, family planning and protection from sexually transmitted diseases. All women should be able to count on those things, and the UNFPA's mission was to ensure that they could. She said that the ability of couples to plan the number, spacing and timing of births was a fundamental right. Nevertheless, many women who wanted to stop having children or to delay their next birth did not have access to family planning services.

    Young women, particularly in the poorest countries, were most frequently burdened and impoverished by over-frequent bearing and rearing of children, she continued. In sub-Saharan Africa, estimates suggested that less than half the demands for family planning services were being met. Most troubling was that those demands were expected to increase by some 40 per cent in the next 15 years, because there were so many young people of reproductive age. Indeed, during that 15 years -- the timeline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals -- the population of the developing world was expected to increase by 1 billion people. Perhaps more than half those people would be under the age of 25.

    She went on to urge the Council to remember that the current generation of adolescents was the first to grow up in the shadow of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Today, half of all new HIV infections occurred in young people. But just as young people were the most vulnerable to infection, they were also the best hope to turn the epidemic around. Large scale, targeted prevention efforts had proved successful in many countries. The UNFPA had made HIV prevention a priority, and was funding programmes to empower women and involve men. She added that linking health care initiatives with education strategies would help bridge the gender gap that now took a terrible toll on societies.

    JACOBUS RICHELLE, Director-General for Development of the European Commission, said that for some years donors had come to a shared vision of development, shared principles and shared targets. Donors had also widely agreed that poverty reduction strategies, where they existed, must become the common framework for working towards effective poverty reduction in partner countries, provided that those countries fully owned their development process. But despite all efforts, there had been an apparent failure to transform those common visions, principles and policies into results. The main problem was the weakness and inadequacy of governance structures at the global as well as the regional and national levels. In the areas of health and education, development cooperation had not fulfilled the countries' and populations' expectations because of a lack of consensus and ownership among the main stakeholders, he said.

    Interventions in health and education must be designed and delivered in close cooperation with the partner countries and in partnership with the private sector and representatives of civil society. If health and education were key areas for poverty reduction, human resources and capacity building needed to be developed in order to achieve greater ownership by partner countries. Human resources and capacity building needed to be strengthened in policy formulation and implementation, preferably through sector-wide approaches, including financial aspects of governance, technical assistance and training.

    He noted that it was also essential to support decentralization processes, to encourage participation of civil society, and to work on the harmonization of procedures. He stressed that special emphasis must be placed at the global level on development of human resources and capacity building in health and education. At the regional level, it was clear that capacity building and institutional development (a priority for European Commission development policy) were key components of any supportive actions for health and education. For health, it was the fight against communicable diseases; for education, it was the strengthening of regional centres of excellence capable of attracting nationals and minimizing brain drain.

    ROLF BOEHNKE, Managing Director of the Common Fund for Commodities, said the Fund financed projects including research and development, productivity improvements, new products and marketing, horizontal and vertical diversification, assistance in the transition to liberalized markets, and the mitigation of price risks. Those projects aimed not only at commodity development, but also addressed the issue of human resources, including building institutional and human capacity in production, processing, marketing and diversification.

    In that way, the Common Fund contributed to the economic foundation of measures designed to improve sanitation, health and educational levels in developing countries. The economic, health and educational aspects were different configurations of a known problem, namely how to improve the livelihood of the disadvantaged and the poor and how to make them full partners in a globalized world economy. The Common Fund therefore supported projects addressing the triangle of economic viability, social responsibility and environmental sustainability.

    Panel Discussion

    A panel discussion, hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), was then held on "Health Priorities in Africa: Are We in the Right Direction for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Health?"

    The panel was chaired by Ivan Simonovic (Croatia), President of the Economic and Social Council. Participating were Awa Marie Coll Seck, Minister of Health of Senegal; Jeffrey Sachs, Office of the Secretary-General; David Nabarro, WHO; and Benson Morah, UNFPA.

    Speaking at the outset, Mr. SIMONOVIC said that today's panel would focus on particulars, rather than general themes. A year ago the issue of health priorities in Africa had been discussed. The need to take it up again obviously reflected the situation -- the most sensitive issues must be tackled.

    Mr. NABARRO reminded those present of the Millennium Development Goals, the achievement of which would be a "tall order". He made a visual presentation that highlighted the gap between the Goals and progress made thus far. Among the areas he covered were poverty, child mortality, HIV/AIDS, low spending on health, and the lack of skilled workers in Africa.

    On the positive side, he noted progress made in polio eradication in Africa, where there were synchronized national immunization days. African nations could achieve the Millennium Goals, but it would require, among others, strong stewardship by the State, the participation of all and conditions that enabled women to play a leadership role in health development.

    Mr. MORAH's presentation focused on the need to consolidate and substantially increase community level actions or achievements to enable African countries to attain the Goals in the area of health. He pointed out that various categories of community members had been successfully and effectively used in the region to provide care or treatment for specific or minor ailments, to refer serious cases to higher-level facilities, and to provide essential health information and education.

    He noted successful experiences, of which there were many, in the areas of tuberculosis care, malaria control and in the fight against HIV/AIDS. He stressed the need to continue and intensify efforts to empower and enable communities to take on some responsibilities for their own health care. It was also important to intensify, expand and sustain education and communication activities. Effective partnerships at the community level between all relevant stakeholders was also essential, as was the need to direct much more community level action towards improving the reproductive health of African women and achieving gender equity and equality.

    Mr. SACHS said "we are living in a global health crisis with its epicentre in Africa". The Council had a key role to play in dealing with the crisis. Millions of people were dying of preventable diseases and causes "because the people dying are impoverished -- they are too poor to be able to afford to stay alive." It was not rich people who were dying. Some $40 per person could help the situation, as compared to the $4,400 per person spent on health in the United States each year.

    The poorest of the poor countries were too poor to fight the health problems facing their people, he said. He welcomed donor governments to "do the arithmetic". A "very, very basic and grave" crisis was being faced -- if nothing was done, millions would die in the years to come because they were too poor to be able to stay alive. The real irony of the world was that the poorest of the poor were dying for lack of the most basic interventions and the rich countries had more money than was conceivable. A tiny percentage of the money of the rich would solve the problem. One penny out of every $10 would save 8 million lives a year. "It's the greatest bargain in the world", he said.

    Ms. COLL SECK said that countries that received support would be able to achieve much. She noted that her country had adopted the Millennium Goals along with 190 countries. A follow-up mechanism had been established for the commitments made. Her country's health sector was going through a vast number of reforms: including decentralization and hospital reform. The development of new strategies would greatly help the poor access health services.

    She then pointed out the correspondence of Senegal's national health plan with the Goals, before going on to ask if Senegal's goals were too ambitious. After highlighting the challenges to be met, she said much remained to be done. However, there were reasons to be optimistic. This was because there was now a long-term vision, a greater health budget, established health priorities and new initiatives to improve access to health services for the poor. Among the challenges that remained to be faced were inadequate human resources for health, institutional instability and lack of health financing.

    Following the presentations, a brief question and answer session was held, during which participants and attendees elaborated on the topics raised.

    Continuation of High-level Segment

    A.B. BORISHADE, Minister of Education of Nigeria, said the contribution of human resources development as a catalyst for improved health care delivery systems, education for all, capacity-building, provision of shelter, food security and poverty eradication was certainly beyond debate. Education and health were inseparable and mutually reinforcing in human development and were at the epicentre of sustainable development. A healthy person bred an educated person, while an educated person sustained a healthy practice, critical for poverty eradication and development. He stressed that it was necessary to invite urgent attention to some lessons learned in pursuit of development. Despite the best intentions in Nigeria, results attained continued to be mixed, and when subject to scrutiny, occasionally appeared somewhat disappointing.

    The truth was that the efforts were not fully recognized nor partnerships appreciated, since the historical and ideological challenges within which such efforts were being made were ignored. He appreciated that development partners were beginning to take these considerations on board, and hoped that their field officers would also imbibe the new spirit. Nigeria had taken bold and imaginative steps to reform its education and health sectors with a view to improving access, maintaining quality and enhancing relevance.

    At the base of the education pyramid, was basic education for children and adults. Adult literacy programmes intended to empower the citizens, many of whom were poor, to combat poverty, disease and ignorance. He added that Nigeria had adopted the Universal Basic Education Programme including free and compulsory education for children up to 15 years of age.

    Regarding health, the Government was mindful of the population most at risk -- children, women and the elderly -- and was concentrating on a revamped and improved immunization programme. Efforts had also been made to establish and rehabilitate health institutions; increase the number of health workers in urban and rural communities; and mobilize the public on health awareness. Yet, the battle remained daunting. Nigeria was hamstrung by inadequate resources, an external debt burden, lack of market access, a steady brain drain and the high cost of medication. He welcomed the collective will of the international community reaffirmed by the G-8 last week, to join hands in contributing to human resources development.

    ANN THERESE NDONG-JATTA, Secretary of State for Education of the Gambia, said that unless countries in the developing world were able to raise educational levels within their societies and shield their people from debilitating health conditions, their chances of hauling themselves out of poverty would remain slim. If the international community was unable to develop human resources in the developing countries, it would be impossible to attain the Millennium Development Goals, particularly the goals set for poverty reduction by 2015. The onus was on everyone, both in developing and in developed countries, to foster genuine and equal partnerships at all levels, particularly South-South cooperation. It was essential to seek innovative and effective ways of decreasing illiteracy worldwide and increasing knowledge and skills among the deprived populations of the world.

    Regrettably, she said some African countries had been forced to divest from higher education. A condition for qualifying for World Bank assistance in the education sector had been for African countries to divert resources from higher education and channel them instead towards primary and basic education. She said that to this day, many African countries had not been able to recover from that onslaught on African higher education. Some of the finest institutions had thus almost been destroyed, thanks to the imposition of bad policies from partners who, in the first place, came out professing assistance. What African countries had received, she said, was the kiss of death.

    The lesson was simple: policy makers in the developing countries might be poor, but they were not unintelligent. Genuine assistance in areas that were critical to the survival of society, as were its human resources, must be guided by the knowledge and collective aspirations of the indigenous people and their chosen policy makers. Concerning health, she said that the majority of Africans had no access to modern health services and facilities. And as economic conditions worsened from year to year, more and more Africans found themselves resorting to traditional health systems. It would be a more realistic approach if efforts were made to increase the effectiveness of these services by intervening to strengthen them and raise their delivery capacity.

    HANNO RUMPF, Permanent Secretary of the National Planning Commission of Namibia, said while significant commitments had been made at both the national and international levels regarding the issue of health and education, it was time to move from making commitments to implementing those already made. And while all agreed that human resources development was fundamental to the development process, concrete actions and political will towards that end were now needed. Since Namibia's independence in 1990, the education and health sectors had accounted for more than 40 per cent of the annual national budget. Despite progress, Namibia was faced with numerous challenges. One of the foremost challenges was the problem of HIV/AIDS. The impact of HIV/AIDS in Namibia could not be measured in terms of the education and health sectors only. Financially, for example, the fight against HIV/AIDS was diverting funds from other national programmes.

    Human resources development could only take place in Namibia to a limited degree under the current conditions, he continued. National efforts were not adequate without sustained assistance from the international community. Namibia strongly called for the provision of free anti-retroviral drugs to African countries and other forms of support to fight the scourge of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. If financing for human resources development was to become a reality, the role of the international community and multilateral institutions was important in assisting developing countries build their human resources. In that context, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) should be supported and encouraged. NEPAD needed to develop meaningful human resources development objectives, including clearly formulated measures and programmes to combat HIV/AIDS.

    GUN-BRITT ANDERSSON, State Secretary of Sweden, said development was the work of people. Progress in education and health was key in its own right, but perhaps also the most powerful means of achieving the overall aim of halving poverty by 2015. The Monterrey Consensus had spelled out how different sources of financing for development could be mobilized and put to work towards development objectives. Sweden fully supported the Secretary-General's initiative to launch a strategy on the follow-up to the Millennium targets.

    She noted that the level of education of women significantly contributed to improving health among their family members. Well-educated women sent their children to school, both boys and girls. Any tradition or cultural barrier that made it more difficult for girls to attend school must, therefore, be exposed and removed.

    She said education and good health for all could be achieved only if there was a commitment at the national level, she said. Today, a number of encouraging developments to strengthen national ownership could be seen. The development of nationally owned poverty reduction strategies was one such example. Good basic education was not enough, she added. Developing countries and people in developing countries needed access to the most advanced knowledge and technology to enhance their progress and prosperity.

    SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said improving human resources through health and education was crucially important for overall economic development. If the Millennium Goals were to be achieved, social sector expenditure must be recognized as a direct investment in economic growth. The creation of a stable labour force through improved health was fundamental to the overall development process, he stressed.

    While health was the most fundamental prerequisite for development, education was the most effective investment in developing human resources, he said. The international community's commitment to universal primary education for all would help establish balanced social progress in the developing world. To achieve that goal, measures must be taken to eliminate any form of gender disparity in access to education.

    In creating strategies to meet health and education challenges, it was important to harness the synergies between the two areas in a way that would build momentum in the direction of progress and prosperity. His country's school feeding programme combined health and education objectives, to improve children's present state of health with nutritious food, while providing for their future with education. He also placed great emphasis on information and communications technology as a powerful and cost-effective means to promote economic growth through human resources development.

    AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said the link between development, health and education formed the most crucial elements of overall human development. Those linkages touched every aspect of development, from fighting poverty to reducing infant mortality. For example, there was no use in providing health services if parents could not read instructions on their children's medication.

    He said that Africa, which consistently lagged in development, needed particular attention. It was more necessary than ever to tackle the issue of providing necessary resources for sustainable development. Current efforts in that regard must be joined with vigorous action to reduce preventable diseases and HIV/AIDS. It was striking to see that the least developed countries (LDCs) were still unable to generate more than $15 per capita per year for health care, while in the developed world, the figure had been estimated at some $2000 per person per year.

    Special and collective international efforts were needed to reduce the gap that existed between the developing countries and others so they would be able to provide adequate health care and enhance their capacities in that regard. He called on the international community to do its part. If global actors really prescribed to the principles of the Millennium Declaration, then wealthy industrialized countries would recognize that it would take only a penny of every $10 spent to provide the $15 billion to $20 billion needed to ensure basic health care and primary education in the developing world.

    WANG YINGFAN (China) said the promotion of human resources development required a new concept for overall development in the twenty-first century, already characterized by globalization and rapid advancements in communication and information technology. The exploration and enhancement of human resources had never been more important. Efforts to develop human resources should be based on the principle of delivering benefits to people.

    He said human capacities should be enhanced -- particularly through improving education -- so that all could adapt to globalization and the new information society. The international community should also aim to ensure competitiveness in order to promote development through capacity-building. Promotion of human resources development should also aim to improve people's health. Ensuring health care systems that provided services for all was a sure way to break the vicious cycle of poverty, which gave rise to illnesses, leading eventually to increased poverty.

    The successful promotion of human resources required putting in place life-long education systems. It was imperative to vigorously develop basic and vocational education by establishing a broad and multi-level network of education training. It was also necessary to use new communications technologies to improve learning as well as teaching skills. He said that human resources development also called for strengthened international cooperation. The international community should work to establish a multi-level, multi-form cooperation mechanism based on mutual benefit, mutual reciprocity and common development through increased personnel and information exchange.

    SICHAN SIV (United States) said his country wanted to work with the world community to close the divide between nations that were making progress and those that were not. Developed and developing countries alike needed to do more to nurture human capacity, especially through basic education. His country had passed legislation for a programme known as "Leave No Child Behind." It had turned federal spending on schools into a federal investment in improved student performance. It required States to set high standards and create a system of accountability to measure results.

    Similar steps were called for in the developing world, he continued. On 20 June the United States President had announced a doubling of funds for the African Education Initiative inaugurated in July of last year. It would bring the country's spending over the next five years to $200 million. By working with African Governments, the Initiative would train 400,000 teachers, provide more than 250,000 scholarships for African girls, partner with universities to provide 4.5 million textbooks and increase the role of parents in education by making school systems more transparent and open to reforms.

    Further, he said that because health was also critical, the United States had announced on 19 June that it planned to dedicate an additional $500 million to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV in 12 African countries and the Caribbean. The initiative would focus on increasing the availability of preventive care, including drug treatments and building health care delivery systems for women. Working with African Governments, hospitals in Africa would be paired with those in the United States. Volunteer medical professionals would be deployed to train their counterparts. African efforts to recruit students to the effort would be supported. The initiative would be in addition to the $4 billion dollars the United States was already contributing to other HIV/AIDS initiatives.

    All those efforts, he emphasized, would have to be undertaken jointly. A new accountability for both wealthy and poor nations needed to be defined. Action must be grounded in the reality that sound domestic policies, good governance and the rule of law were fundamental to development. They created the essential conditions for sustained economic growth and investment.

    IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that while the aim of halving poverty by 2015 was ambitious, it was also achievable. It required concerted action and partnership of both developed and developing countries, governments and civil society, rich and poor. International commitments made in that regard must be kept. Indeed, all must shoulder the responsibility of putting the poor and disadvantaged on the road to development.

    He said that while immense progress had been achieved in health and education over the last 50 years, it was necessary to ensure that corresponding Millennium Development Goals were met. Currently, it was estimated that some $9 billion, at minimum, was needed for universal primary education annually. Some $20 to $25 billion was needed for health care. Obviously, developing countries were not in a position to generate those kinds of resources on their own. External support would be essential.

    While the international community must provide the appropriate environment for human resources development, overall development processes must be domestically owned and driven. In that regard, Bangladesh could share its positive experience in addressing such issues as education, empowerment of women and poverty alleviation through an effective macroeconomic policy mix. Bangladesh had moved from a food deficit country not long ago to being able to feed some 130 million people today.

    He said that whatever modest success Bangladesh had been able to achieve had largely been due to its ability to harness its own intellectual resources to the process of development. Home-grown ideas like microcredit and non-formal education, particularly for girls, were radically transforming the society. Bangladesh also believed that development was only possible when based on a matrix of pluralism, liberalism, democracy and human rights and where an active civil society forged partnerships with a representative government.

    BOB JALANG'O (Kenya) said that to ensure sustainable human resource development, progress also had to be made in other key areas which complemented health and education, such as access to clean water, housing, modern infrastructure, environmental protection, stability and peace.

    While Kenya had made tremendous progress in education and health in the 30 years after independence, those gains had been eroded due to the impact of the reduction in public funding resulting from structural adjustment programmes and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This had resulted in a social crisis that had hit the poor and the vulnerable in society the hardest. Virtually all aspects of development had experienced the severe impact of HIV/AIDS at the household, community and national levels, he said. To counter that trend, Kenya had emphasized ensuring affordable and equitable access to education at all levels for both girls and boys.

    While individual countries had the sole responsibility to ensure their own development in line with national priorities, the inputs of bilateral and multilateral donors were necessary to complement local resources, he continued. To ensure their effectiveness, however, those inputs needed to be coordinated, using home-grown mechanisms such as the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and national poverty reduction strategies. Also, every effort should be made to eliminate conditionalities which he said continued to overburden the limited capacity of developing countries.

    He called for the implementation of commitments made in past United Nations conferences, especially the Millennium Summit, the General Assembly special sessions on HIV/AIDS and children as well as those made at the Dakar World Education Forum. In that regard, Kenya commended the G-8 on the establishment of the Task Force on Education to pursue the plans for Education For All and other related activities in the health and education sectors. He also welcomed the Action Plan adopted by the just concluded G-8 Summit on NEPAD as a step forward in mobilizing resources for Africa's development.

    The burden of external debt continued to limit the ability of many developing countries to invest in health and education, he said. Some of those countries spent over 30 per cent of their gross national product on servicing debt.

    OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru) said that for more than a decade, the countries of his region had been applying a model of development that preferred global circulation of financial capital, particularly speculative capital, over human development and protection of the environment. That model had been characterized by successive crises and failed bail-out attempts, and had been impossible to finance. It had proved unsustainable because it attempted to recreate within poor, technologically backward societies the production and consumption patterns of rich societies.

    Subsequently, almost all the countries to which the misnomer "developing" was applied actually did not develop at all, he said. They continued to be trapped in non-technology intensive production and in primary exports, while their urban populations continued to explode. The planet was quickly turning into an urbanized society that was poor and politically unstable. Indeed the famous global village consisted of only one well-paved main street, which serviced the 1.8 billion people living in the richest countries.

    He said the majority of the streets that made up the global village were unpaved, lined with shanties that were home to informal workers living on less than $2 a day or radicals and fanatics living on their religious fantasies. With all that in mind, Peru agreed with the report of the Secretary-General that development strategists should consider investing in human resources as a fundamental tool in the fight against poverty. Poor countries needed investment in human beings within a social network. Indeed, investment in people created more equitable societies, bound in solidarity and trust, which certainly would lead to development.

    With a view to increasing social investment, the Government of Peru had consented to reduce its military spending with the goal of freeing up economic and financial resources to allow investments in nutrition, health and education. That decision had led to the creation of a regional arrangement -- the Andean charter for Peace and Security -- in which member governments committed to undertake joint actions to regionally promote a credible and verifiable process of conventional weapons limitation. That would allow the majority of resources to be funneled toward social development.

    MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said education and health were obviously two of the most critical sectors in the promotion of human development and, indeed, balanced socio-economic development in any country. The developing countries needed to allocate much larger resources to provide basic health protection and amenities to their peoples and to promote literacy and education. Relief from the huge debt servicing burdens could be one way to release resources to enable the expansion of budgetary outlays on health and education.

    In the health sector, budgetary outlays and capacity shortfalls were not the only impediments, he said. There was inadequate research into the diseases which traditionally afflicted people in the developing countries because they were not as lucrative a market as the richer nations.

    He called for: creating a genuinely fair and open trading system which could address the priorities of developing countries; an equitable and stable international financial system where developing countries were able to secure a fair share of international liquidity for investment and growth; and ensuring good global governance, where international and financial decisions, by international financial institutions and the private sector, were made in a coherent, responsible and accountable way. That would assure assuring common people -- not only shareholders but also the poor in developing countries -- that their destinies were not sacrificed to the dictates of profit, greed or the whims of the powerful.

    MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal) said education and health services must be made available and accessible to all. Previously launched campaigns such as Education for All and Health for All had fallen by the wayside. Agreements of other international conferences were gathering dust. Lack of leadership, political will and resources were apparently to blame. Rather than engaging in a blame game, it was best to ask whether all had exerted the best possible efforts to fulfil respective obligations and responsibilities. The Millennium Development Goals had established a vision and concrete benchmarks for action. If both development and developing countries lived up to commitments, the ambitious goals could be achieved.

    He said developing countries should deploy more effective leadership and political will to implement reforms for improved governance, resource mobilization and development performance. They should also catapult the education and health sectors to a high plateau. Developed countries should extend a hand of genuine partnership rather than giving hand-outs to poor countries in helping them address the problems of illiteracy, disease and poverty. They should fulfil ODA pledges, provide deeper and wider debt relief and offer improved access to their markets so that developing States could build capacities. Least developed countries, as the weakest members of the global family, should be given the resources and market access to mainstream them into the global economy.

    Helping poor countries was in the enlightened self-interest of the wealthy nations, he said. It enabled rich countries to expand their markets and to promote peace, security and justice for themselves and all nations. The Council must continue reforms to make it more businesslike and functional, as well as to enable it to regularly monitor and evaluate the implementation of resolutions. Need rather than expediency should dictate the number and nature of substantive sessions. The Council should not remain a tangential annual debating forum. It must find a way to use the valuable insights from its deliberations as a basis for concrete policy inputs.

    DAVID NABARRO, Executive Director, of Sustainable Development and Health Environments of the World Health Organization (WHO) said investing in people was an essential element of development. It was well known that people were not in a position to fight poverty unless they were able to earn a living. Disease and conflict were major threats to achieving sustainable development. It was important to recognize that, because of the scarcity of resources, the achievement of health for all required a disciplined approach. It required focusing on those issues which most impacted societies, particularly in the poor countries, such as maternal mortality and infant mortality and communicable diseases.

    He said strategies must be tailored to monitor progress and assess the results achieved. Funds should utilize a combination of concrete policies, effective institutions and strategies at the country level. He added that WHO, through its work in the field, knew of many instances in which developing countries had successfully initiated their own health, education and poverty reduction strategies. Indeed, it might be helpful if such countries could do more to demonstrate the power of their relevant initiatives and show the concrete results that had already been achieved.

    He said the WHO's efforts would concentrate on national level thinking in order to scale up health programmes in the short and long term. There were challenges ahead, however, such as providing universal access to essential consumables such as medicines and other goods, ensuring functioning management systems to deliver those goods and creating enabling legislative and regulatory frameworks. The international community now seemed ready not to merely support projects and programmes but to back concrete initiatives, aimed at turning the tide against HIV and infant mortality, as well as improving reproductive health care.

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