Latin America has made great strides in reducing extreme poverty but if the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are to be reached, greater equality is needed and improved public financing for health. These were the broad conclusions of the XXV OAS Policy Roundtable that met in Washington earlier this month in advance of a High-Level Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly on progress towards the MDGs, which is taking place at the time of writing. Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) Alicia Bárcena pointed out the importance of Latin America reducing extreme poverty, ‘because poverty reduction is the mother of all of the targets’. According to UN agency reports, the whole region expects to reduce poverty by half by 2015. However, Heraldo Munoz, Director of UNDP Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, argued that ‘reducing inequality has to be a political priority’, since it is an obstacle to meeting the MDGs. Juan Manuel Sotelo of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) also noted that ‘without advances in health-related goals, there will be no progress in the rest of the objectives’.
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