Poverty Reduction and Millennium Development Goals: Recognizing Population, Health, and Environment Linkages in Rural Madagascar

Lynne Gaffikin, DrPH; Jeffrey Ashley, PhD; Paul D. Blumenthal, MD, MPH

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World's fourth largest island
Total area -- 226,656 square miles
Surface area protected (as of 2006) -- 3%
Population size (as of 2006) -- 18,595,469
Population density (population/square mile) -- 78
Life expectancy at birth (both sexes) -- 78 years
Natural growth rate -- 2.7%
Population living below $2/day -- 85%
Source: Population Reference Bureau (PRB) 2006 World Population Data Sheet. Available at: www.prb.org/pdf06/06WorldDataSheet.pdf (Figure)
Source: www.theodora.com/maps


The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), committed to by all 191 United Nations member states, are rooted in the concept of sustainable development. Although 2007 (midway) reports indicated that programs are under way, unfortunately many countries are unlikely to reach their goals by 2015 due to high levels of poverty. Madagascar is one such example, although some gains are being made. Attempts of this island nation to achieve its MDGs, expressed most recently in the form of a Madagascar Action Plan, are notable in their emphasis on (1) conserving the country's natural resource base, (2) the effect of demographic trends on development, and (3) the importance of health as a prerequisite for development. Leadership in the country's struggle for economic growth comes from the president of the Republic, in part, through his "Madagascar Naturally" vision as well as his commitment to universal access to family planning, among other health and development interventions. However, for resource-limited countries, such as Madagascar, to get or stay "on track" to achieving the MDGs will require support from many sides. "Madagascar cannot do it alone and should not do it alone." This position is inherent in the eighth MDG: "Develop a global partnership for development." Apparently, it takes a village after all -- a global one.


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