Following the UN summit in New York, progress of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is an international talking point. Science is acknowledged as a significant factor in helping to achieve these MDGs, a number of UN targets intended to reduce global poverty and improve living standards.
Malnutrition is being tackled through the development of biofortification. This involves breeding crops to increase their nutritional value, which raises food productivity and nutritional security. Africa is benefiting from the development of orange flesh sweet potato, rich in beta-carotene and global development of genetically modified rice, which is high-yielding and tolerant to severe drought in Africa and severe flood in Asia.
New scientific research may help solve the mystery of the vast difference in HIV/AIDS infection rates around the globe and particularly high infection rates among African women. African infections, such as malaria, make women more susceptible to contracting HIV/AIDS. The genital tracts of women in Kenya have more "activated" immune cells – which are more vulnerable to attack by HIV – than women of the United States. Cells can become activated as a reaction to infection. Data collected from nine African countries and 29 non-African countries at risk of malaria, however, shows that malaria cases have been cut by more than half between 2000 and 2008.
The key health targets set for 2015 include: a two-thirds reduction in child mortality; a three-quarters reduction in maternal mortality; and successfully combating HIV, malaria and other major global diseases. Overall, Africa is still the region finding it hardest to meet the MDGs, where one in six children die before their fifth birthday in Western and Central Africa. Asia has seen some success, dramatically reducing India’s under-five mortality rate between 1990 and 2008. $40 billion has been pledged to improve the health of women and children in developing countries over the next five years.
Open access to the results of scientific and medical research has the potential to play an important role in international development. In conjunction with our partner charity, ComputerAid, BioMed Central is hosting Open Access Africa at Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya to discuss the benefits of open access publishing in an African context. Registration is free, but space is limited. To confirm your attendance, email firstname.lastname@example.org