Online Program

Counting what we know; Knowing what to count: Sexual and reproductive rights, maternal health, and millennium development goal 5

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 8:30 a.m. - 8:45 a.m.

Alicia Ely Yamin, JD MPH, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University, Boston, MA
Vanessa Boulanger, MSc, Program on the Health Rights of Women and Children, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University, Boston, MA
Kathryn L. Falb, ScD, MHS, Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT
Purpose: Illustrate how the choice of goals and indicators in the MDGs had consequences for the development priorities of the international community and how MMRs have played a broader role in shaping global development agendas by influencing how priorities were defined, resources allocated, incentive policies formulated, and narratives created. Conclusions have implications for targets and indicators selected for a post-2015 agenda. Data: We conducted a review of funding streams, programming, and organizational structures as result of the MDGs. Methods: We analyze the consequences of the MDGs with particular focus on MDG 5. We examine the choices made leading up to the MDGs, the empirical and normative effects of the MDG agenda, and take a critical lens to measures of progress with respect to MMRs and SBAs. Results: While it is necessary to systematically assess progress on maternal health, it was inappropriate for the MDGs to become national planning targets and we argue that in the case of MDG 5, this elision was exacerbated by the indicator chosen. We explain why MMRs are inappropriate indicators to measure progress from a human rights perspective and the empirical and normative effects of having chosen MMRs to measure progress on SRHR. Recommendations:Criteria derived from human rights principles should be applied to the selection of indicators for comprehensively measuring advancement of SRHR in future development frameworks. Understanding how MDG 5 has had an enormous effect on funding, programming, and normative discourse around SRH is important in the context of framing a future development agenda.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the history and political economy of the selection of MDG 5 in the Millennium Development Goals; Analyze the empirical and normative effects of having chosen Maternal Mortality Ratios (MMRs) for measuring progress on MDG 5; Explain issues relevant to setting criteria to guide the selection of indicators to measure a more comprehensive definition of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

Keyword(s): Women's Health, Maternal Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I regularly participate in expert consultations on the post-Millennium Development Goals agenda. I also serve on the executive committee of Beyond 2015, the largest civil society group working to promote an inclusive, pro-poor agenda post-2015. Additionally, I am co-organizing The Power of Numbers: A Critical Review of MDG Targets for Human Development and Human Rights. The project investigates the impact of MDGs on policy and analyzes each goal.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.