The Deputy Secretary-General briefed the Committee via videoconference on progress in the work of the Millennium Development Goal Africa Working Group and the Millennium Development Goal Africa Steering Group. The Working Group had established seven thematic groups to carry the work forward: agriculture and food security; education; health; infrastructure and trade facilitation; national statistical systems; aid predictability; and improved country-level collaboration.
Members of the High-level Committee on Programmes raised a number of concerns, including the lack of specificity with regard to country-level work in the outcome of the Steering Group; the pressing issue of rising food prices and its significance for food security and the ability of African countries to feed their populations; and how matters related to stability and reintegration in post-conflict situations would affect the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. It was also noted that, while funding for the control of infectious diseases had risen dramatically between 2000 and 2005, maintaining stability in the funding over a longer horizon was important, as was the issue of the interaction of external and domestic resources devoted to health. Africa lacked human resources in the health-care system, particularly in rural areas, and community health-care systems were extremely weak.
The Deputy Secretary-General responded that indeed there was concern about food security and that the issue of a fund for agriculture was the subject of a lively exchange. While there was recognition for the need to increase funding for agriculture, there was no agreement on modalities, including the funding mechanism. She further indicated that improving health-care systems was an important priority in the work of the Millennium Development Goal Africa Working Group and its thematic sub-group on health.
The Committee thanked the Deputy Secretary-General for her briefing and agreed to keep the issue under regular review.