22 July 2005
Target: to reduce by two thirds the mortality
rate among children under five
Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will require the ingenuity, solidarity, and creativity of millions of ordinary people though voluntary action. Efforts on the part of national governments, supported by the international community, can only complement what ultimately will depend on the full involvement of people all over the world. Six billion people have something to contribute. Recognizing this fact is the first step on the road towards harnessing this vast resource in a global effort to meet the MDG targets.
Every year, nearly 11 million children die before their fifth birthday, well over 1,200 every hour of every day. Virtually all of the fatalities (99 per cent) occur in poor countries, mainly from easily preventable or treatable illnesses. Working primarily at local level with a range of development partners, the UN Volunteers (UNV) programme supports activities aimed at the successful promotion of public health care policy, strengthening institutional capacity for effective service delivery, fostering community participation and ownership, and raising awareness on critical health issues.
UNV’s work in advocating volunteerism focuses on the promotion, recognition, facilitation and networking of volunteer action, including:
Through individual volunteers, the UN Volunteers programme
- Expands the outreach of medical care using innovative approaches such as mobile medical units;
- Supports development partners in public awareness campaigns;
Fills vital human resource gaps such as having a physician attend during child birth;
- Mobilizes local human resources in response to national public health issues;
- Trains local practitioners to use the Internet and other information and communications technology (ICT) for the timely distribution of information regarding outbreaks and treatment alternatives;
- Trains local health care givers to raise effectiveness in service delivery.
Through volunteer-involving organizations (VIOs), the UN Volunteers programme
- Helps set up local health committees to promote village health centres and pharmacies;
- Supports community initiatives critical for health improvements;
Mobilizes volunteer support for health campaigns in such fields as immunization;
- Helps NGOs connect with development resources to clean disease-breeding places (rain canals, gutters, waste collection points).
Through volunteer networks, the UN Volunteers programme
- Promotes public health awareness through the networks of VIOs;
- Supports networks to cultivate an exchange of information and experiences;
- Assists in creating health-related hotlines through VIO networks.