Peter A. Singer

Peter Singer has dedicated the last decade to bringing innovation to tackling the health challenges of the world’s poorest people. He is well known around the world for his creative solutions to some of the most pressing global health challenges. Dr. Singer is Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada. He is also Director at the Sandra Rotman Centre at University Health Network and Professor of Medicine at University of Toronto.

During the week of September 22, 2014 the nations of the world gather in New York for the Annual United Nations (UN) General Assembly. Among the topics up for discussion is a set of proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), drafted by UN Open Working Group over the past year. The list contains 17 goals and 169 targets for a 15 year period from 2015 to 2030.

SDG Targets

As attention shifts from developing this strategic framework to executing it, some are concerned that there are too many goals and targets for focused, motivated, and well-resourced execution.

In a piece in the September 19 issue of The Lancet, we propose a possible solution: a rolling start.  Let’s identify a thematic cluster of targets to launch each year, beginning in 2015, on a rolling, annual basis.

Where would we begin?  Maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) which is an unfinished agenda of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), should be at the heart of the post-2015 agenda.  We argue it is an excellent cluster with which to start, and in the table on the left and below, we identify 13 of the 169 targets that we feel could represent an MNCH cluster.

Maternal, Newborn and Child Health cluster of post-2015 SDG targets

2.2 by 2030 end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving by 2025 the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under five years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women, and older persons

3.1 by 2030 reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births

3.2 by 2030 end preventable deaths of newborns and under-five children

3.3 by 2030 end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases, and other communicable diseases

3.7 by 2030 ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes

3.8 achieve universal health coverage (UHC), including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health care services, and access to safe, effective, quality, and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all

4.2 by 2030 ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education

5.1 end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere

5.2 eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation

5.3 eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilations

6.2 by 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations

16.2 end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children

16.9 by 2030 provide legal identity for all including birth registration

We invite you to read the piece in Lancet for further details of the argument. It is available for free here.


We encourage you to post your questions and comments about this blog post on our Facebook page Grand Challenges Canada and on Twitter @gchallenges.