Chapter 5: What is Wrong with Setting any Targets?
We will examine the desirability of setting targets in the context of the MDGs, though the considerations discussed apply to any set of targets, such as the recent “3 by 5 Initiative” whereby the WHO (World Health Organization) set out the target to put 3 million people into HIV/ AIDS treatment by 2005. The MDGs were derived from the Millennium Declaration, unanimously adopted by world leaders at the 2000 Millennium Summit. They have become an organizing framework for UN development work for both donors and developing nations. We will focus just on Goal 6, which is aimed at combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. There are two targets assigned to Goal 6 (UN Millennium Project, 2005, p. xvi): Target 7: Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS Target 8: Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases There are two main problems with setting any targets. The first involves their feasibility and second their desirability. FEASIBILITY What happens if the set of targets one specifies cannot be achieved given the resources, technology and time at hand? Say one can achieve Target 7 or Target 8, but not both. Which one does one try to achieve completely? Is achieving one target completely better than tackling both targets and achieving some, but not full success for either? Targets only give guidance for policy-makers when they can be met fully. DESIRABILITY Even if targets are feasible, are they desirable? If...
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