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Category: MILLENIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS

BANGLADESH: Goal 5: A MAJOR TURNAROUND IN MATERNAL MORTALITY RATIO

The Bangladesh MDGs reflect a set of targets and actions contained in the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by 193 nations including Bangladesh, in 2002 based on the Millennium Declaration agreed in September 2000. Bangladesh has been observed and recorded to achieve impressive feats in pulling people out of poverty; ensuring that more  and more children-both girls and boys, attend school, and have access to clean water. Bangladesh is among the 16 countries who have received UN recognition for being on track to achieve many of its MDGs, for instance, noteworthy progress has been made in the child survival rate. There have been some improvements to address the country’s massive environmental challenges over the past decade as well.

bangladesh g5

But we will look into the improvement made in the maternal mortality ratio of Bangladesh; which at 194 has shown a major turnaround. Performance on this goal is a major achievement as it was lagging behind in this sector. MDG 5 of Bangladesh is to improve maternal health; which has one target and two indicators, namely, maternal mortality ratio and births attended by skilled health personnel.

  •  Maternal Mortality Ratio:

Ever since the government of Bangladesh decided to emphasize the importance of the need to rapidly improve maternal health, it has been successful in progressing atleast some of the indicators. This was achieved by increasing the use of modern health care technologies/facilities among all segments of the population. According to goal 5 of MDGs, the maternal mortality ratio should be reduced by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015. Impressively, the Maternal Mortality Ratio in Bangladesh has reduced from 574 per 100,000 live births in 1991 to 320 per 100,000 live births in 2001 (Figure 4).
In 2006 the estimated maternal mortality ratio was 290 per 100,000 live births (as per UNFPA). However, this rate does not include the abortion related deaths. Yet the current trend/pattern in the maternal mortality ratio shows Bangladesh is on more or less on the right track of meeting its target, that is 143 per 1,00,000 live births, by the year 2015. The decrease in maternal mortality ratio between 1990 and 2006 might be due to increase in the rate of receiving antenatal care and tetanus toxoid vaccine by the pregnant mothers from 1990 to 2006, as it reduces the risks involved during pregnancies and at delivery-for both- the mother and child(Figure 4). The proportion of pregnant mothers who received at least one Antenatal care vaccine and who received it from doctors/nurses or medically trained people almost doubled; from 28% in 1989-92 to 49% in 2002-06. The mothers, who received two or more tetanus toxoid vaccines during pregnancy increased from 49% in 1990-93 to 64% in 2002-06.

g5-2

 

Recently in 2010, according to the Bangladesh Maternity Mortality Survey 2010 (NIPORT, 2011), maternal mortality declined from 322 in 2001 to only 194 in 2010, which is a 40% decline in 9 years implying an average rate of decline of about 3.3 percent per year. The overall proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel has increased by more than fivefold in the last two decades, i.e. from 5% in 1991 to 26.5% in 2010.

bang mortality rate

 

  • Births attended by skilled health personnel

Even at this age and day, 85 percent of deliveries take place at home in Bangladesh. The proportion of birth delivered at health facility increased from 4 percent in 1989-93 to 15 percent in 2002-2006. The institutional deliveries in Bangladesh increased significantly in the last three years compared to the progress in earlier years. However, there are high rural-urban variations and regional disparities in institutional deliveries. According to BDHS 2007, the number of birth deliveries at medical facilities was three times higher in the urban areas than that in rural areas of the country (Figure 5).

g5-3

 

Also, the proportion of birth deliveries attended by medically trained and skilled health personnel was only 5 percent in 1990 and it increased to 18 percent in the period 2002-2006, at an annual average rate of 16.25 percent; which is considerably lower than the country’s MDG target, which should be 50 percent by 2015 (Figure 5). If this trend goes on like this rate, then the country will not be able to achieve its MDG target for improving maternal mortality ratio.

Moreover, Bangladesh needs to take measures to significantly increase Institutional deliveries in order to improve maternal health to a satisfactory level because these medically trained personnel, apart from qualified doctors also include trained nurses, midwife, paramedic, family welfare visitor (FWV); who are not trained well enough to prevent many of the obstetric complications. The statistics show that the proportion of delivery assisted by skilled health personnel is considerably higher in urban areas than that in rural areas. Thirty five percent of the deliveries were attended by medically trained providers in urban area and only 7 percent in rural area during 1991 to 1993. In the period of 2002-2006 the corresponding figures were 37 percent and 13 percent respectively. This trend illustrates that the rate of improvement in terms of increase in number of deliveries attended by skilled health personnel is higher in rural area compared to urban area (Table 10).

g5-4

  • Challenges:

Though Bangladesh has considerably succeeded in achieving most of the MDG targets, there is still room for improvement in some of the indicators in Goal 5 of the MDGs. These are:-

  1. More medical facilities and attention should be provided to pregnant women as a significant proportion of them are iodine deficient as well and develop night blindness during pregnancy. This needs to be taken into consideration and should b e prevented.
  2. Improvement in births attended by skilled health personnel is not satisfactory. Only on average 480 CSBA are produced annually by the Obstetrical and Gynecological Society of Bangladesh (OGSB) and a total of 3000 have been trained so far, which should have been nothing less than the target of 13,000 trainees. Rapid training of skilled health personnel, increase in infrastructure and cautious monitoring is needed, for Bangladesh to reach its set target by the year 2015.
  3. One important intervention of the Maternal Health Strategy 2001 was to train medical officers in obstetrics or anaesthesia (1 year diploma level) and place them in functional teams at District facilities. So far only 206 obstetrics and 118 officials in anaesthesia have been trained. Moreover, only 57 percent of the obstetrics and 69 percent of the medical officers in anaesthesia are appointed in designated positions with frequent failure to retain both the obstetric and the anaesthesia to perform caesarian sections in a facility due to variety of reasons (MTR 2008). The Government should take steps to overcome this problem, with special emphasis on reducing absenteeism in rural areas.

Actually, the problem lies at the grassroots level. In Bangladesh, majority of the population still has very little knowledge about the MDGs and its necessity in the country. Until and unless the concept is well understood by the mass people, the benefits of the MDGs may not be achieved to its full potential.

WEBLIOGRAPHY

http://www.undp.org.bd/projects/prodocs/PRS_MDG/Situation%20analysis_health.pdf

http://www.undp.org.bd/mdgs.php

 

 

–SAKSHI RAINA

TYBMM

 

 

 

Pakistan: the Need for Global Partnership for Development

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Pakistan like many other nations, adopted the millennium Declaration in the year 2000, and pledged to leave no stone unturned in their efforts to free its men, women and children from extreme poverty conditions.
The 18 global targets and 48 indicators adopted in 2000 have been translated into 16 national targets and 37 indicators keeping in view Pakistan’s specific conditions, priorities, data availability and institutional capacity. Since 2006, numerous successful developments have taken place in Pakistan which has changed its social, political and economic state.

Targets for achieving Global Partnership For Development in Pakistan are:

  • To comprehensively deal with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term.
  • To develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for youth, in cooperation with developing countries.
  • To make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications, in cooperation with the private sector.

The consequences of a world that is interconnected or a globalised world have been recognised by all participant countries that make up the global economy; be it environmental disasters or natural occurrences — such as the 2008 global financial crisis, or the war on terror in and around Pakistan and Afghanistan, the consequences of numerous local and supposedly isolated events, have negative global outcomes, some of which can be disastrous and catastrophic.

Pakistan has become a focal point, both in terms of geography and of development, requiring help and assistance to achieve all seven of its MDGs by means of the Eighth Goal, which includes greater market access, development assistance, and greater connectivity.
With Pakistan being an aid dependent country for decades now, the manner of aid distribution and its conditionality, variability and uncertainty has caused various problems which have undermined its benefits of providing assistance for achieving many of Pakistan’s MDGs and overall development. But with trade replacing aid as a means to achieve this stage of development, Pakistan’s desire for greater market access is largely supply- constrained, where Pakistan’s narrow export base has limited exportable services and commodities.
Therefore, it has been observed that for Pakistan to be able to take due advantage of the wide spread global economy, rather than being victims of it; bilateral and multilateral overseas development assistance can play a key role in doing so.


Conclusion

However, unless there is an urgency to create a renewed and collective effort to mobilize resources, both at the domestic and international front; and also to refocus the priorities of the country in favour of these development Goals, there is a high risk of considerable shortfalls in the MDGs set for 2015. Though time is needed in order to bridge the gigantic gap between performance and expectations that exist presently, future trends and dramatic results can happen when nations are faced with overwhelming challenges.

The adoption of the Seventh National Finance Commission Award in 2011 will free up some resources from the federal government to the provinces and allow the less developed provinces to access further funds. And since provinces are responsible for achieving many of the Goals of the MDGs, this transformation in resource allocation may be fortuitous for achieving some of the MDG Goals, as long as these Goals receive their priority.

An elected democratic government is the call of the hour that will take extraordinary measures, wherever necessary, to achieve the targets set up for each of the country’s Eight MDGs. These targets can be easily met as long as there is a clear commitment and collective effort as a country to achieving these Goals.
–SAKSHI RAINA
TYBMM (Journalism)

 

WEBLIOGRAPHY:

http://www.qismat.org.pk/component/content/article/38/82-millenium-development-goals-in-pakistan

CHILD MORTALITY AND NEPAL

Millennium Development Goal

GOAL 4:
REDUCE CHILD MORTALITY

Improving child health is taken as the important criteria for the health development in general and is seen not only as the goal in itself. There have been remarkable and visible improvements in some of the indicators of child health globally. Service provisions like immunization, oral re-hydration and other, essential for the child survival, are substantially increased. Some concrete results have been achieved for this MDG. Between 1990 and 2000 under-five mortality declined by 11 percent worldwide. There was the decline in the global child deaths from diarrhoea by half during the decade of 1990-2000, which saved about one million lives. Underweight among the children in developing countries fell from 32 to 28 percent.

TARGET: To Reduce the under -five Child Morality by two thirds

Status:

There has been a considerable decline in the case of child morality within last three decades.

Reason for the reduction was the control over some of the deadly diseases like chicken pox, malaria, cholera and other highly deadly diseases. The rate of under-five child morality differs from different region from rural to urban. As per report the morality rate is higher in rural areas as compared to urban areas.

Nepal has made significant progress in reducing the infant mortality rate (IMR) and under-five mortality rate (U5MR) in recent years. By 2006, the national IMR had decreased to 48 deaths per 1,000 live births and the U5MR had decreased to 61 deaths per 1,000 live births (Ministry of Health and Population, MOHP et al. 2007). Trend analysis of data from 1995 to 2005 suggests that the IMR declined by 39 per cent and the U5MR by 48 per cent over the period. A recent survey in rural locations of 40 districts shows that in these areas IMR has fallen to 41 deaths per 1,000 live births and U5MR to 50 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Analysis of the IMR and U5MR for Nepal shows that there are important disparities by gender, caste, ethnicity, and geographic location. Data from 2006 show little difference in the national IMR and U5MR between girls and boys (MOHP et al. 2007); however, the Nepal Family Health Programme survey shows that in rural areas gender disparity is still quite significant, with infant mortality 1.18 times higher for females than for males and under-five mortality 1.19 times higher.

Although immunization against measles for children aged 12–23 months reached 85 percent in 2006 (Ministry of Health and Population, MOHP et al. 2007), it declined to 83 per cent in 2007-08 (Department of Health Service, DOHS 2008) and recorded a slight improvement in 2009 to 85.6 per cent (Nepal Family Health Programme, NFHP 2010). There are also disparities in access to anti-measles vaccination in terms of boys and girls, rural–urban residence, ecological zone, and development region (MOHP et al. 2007).

Supportive Environment for Controlling Child-5 morality:

To control morbidity and mortality among children, the government has initiated several child-survival programmes including the Community-Based Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (CB-IMCI), the Community-Based Newborn Care Package (CB-NCP), and the National Immunization Programme (NIP). The CB-IMCI package has recently been expanded to all 75 districts. Based on the National Neonatal Strategy 2004, the government is piloting the CB-NCP in 11 districts. This programme promotes the use of skilled birth attendants during delivery, and provides community-based counselling, treatment and referral of sick neonatal.

The NIP, including vaccination against measles, is a high-priority government programme, and covers the entire country free of cost. Nepal has made landmark progress in relation to child survival. In recognition of this, it received an award at the International Partners’ Forum held in Hanoi in November 2009. The Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP) has also been awarded by the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization(GAVI).

Challenges:

Neonatal mortality is a serious concern in Nepal, accounting for 69 per cent of IMR and 54 per cent of U5MR in 2006 (DOHS 2008). The present pace of reduction in the IMR and U5MR cannot be sustained unless reduction in the neonatal mortality rate is accelerated. The most common causes of neonatal deaths are infection, birth injury and birth asphyxia.

The challenges faced during the process of overcome the serious concern were:-

  • Ensuring adequate nutrition to children and developing locally sensitive nutrition program.
  • Investing a higher level of public expenditure on health and investing on areas having above rate of child morality.
  • Raising the quality of health services.
  • Reducing the cost of medicines.
  • Developing authority responsible for health programs and awareness.
  • Increasing people awareness by providing campaigns regarding child morality.
  • Developing appropriate strategies to address the high prevalence of neonatal morality.

Although the budget for child health has risen in recent years, little effort has been made to mobilize local resources such as block grants provided by the government through the Ministry of Local Development and resources generated by the local bodies for child health. In fact, spending by local bodies on basic health has been minimal and not guided by health indicators.

GENDER EQUALITY AND PAKISTAN

Millennium Development Goal

Goal 3:

GENDER EQUALITY AND WOMEN EMPOWERMENT

Target 3: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015

  • For girls in some regions, education remains elusive
  • Poverty is a major barrier to education, especially among older girls
  • In every developing region except the CIS, men outnumber women in paid employment
    Women are largely relegated to more vulnerable forms of employment
  • Women are over-represented in informal employment, with its lack of benefits and security
  • Top-level jobs still go to men — to an overwhelming degree
  • Women are slowly rising to political power, but mainly when boosted by quotas and other special measures

Pakistan will be missing most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with slow economic growth and increasing income inequality in the country.

According to UN annual MDG report for 2012, besides Pakistan’s slow economic growth of around 3% for the last 3-4 years, the income inequality in the country has been on rise, whereby share of lowest quintile in consumption is only 9.6% against 40.3% for the highest quintile – a startling disparity. At the domestic front, security issues, war on terror and IDPs have put further pressure on our economy.

Also, Pakistan has faced serious challenges in the last six years, stemming from a sudden meltdown in the global economy in 2008, along with a sharp rise in oil and food prices earlier that year. The report covers the period since 2006 in which numerous and far reaching developments have taken place, which have transformed the social, political and economic landscape of Pakistan, all having an impact on the outcomes, achievements and targets of Pakistan’s Millennium Development Goals.

The status of Pakistan is as follows:

  • Pakistan has made steady though slow progress with regard to the Gender Parity Index (GPI) for primary and secondary education. Despite the fact that Pakistan has missed the MDG target of gender parity in primary and secondary education in 2005, with the current pace, the MDG target of gender parity is likely to be unachievable by 2015.
  • Youth literacy GPI improved during 2004-09. With the existing pace, the MDG target of 1.00 by 2015 is likely to be unachievable.
  • Women’s share in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector has increased but Pakistan is making slow progress in achieving the target. Keeping in view the slow progress, proper steps need to be taken to achieve the MDG target of 14 percent.
  • With regard to number of women seats in the national parliament, Pakistan has shown substantial improvement over the years. The proportion of seats in the present National Assembly is substantial, and is amongst the highest in the world.

Pakistan had adopted 18 targets and 41 indicators against which progress was measured. However, the UN annual report said data against only 33 indicators was available. Of the total 33 indicators, progress on 20 indicators is lagging behind, slow on four, on track for three, off track for one, while targets against five indicators have been met.

POVERTY AND BANGLADESH

Millennium Development Goal

Goal 1:

ERADICATE EXTREME POVERTY AND HUNGER

Bangladesh has made reasonably good progress in its effort at reducing poverty. The decline in poverty was more rapid in the 1990s than during earlier decades. Poverty reduction in the first half of the current decade was also somewhat faster than in the 1990s. During the 9 years between 1991-92 and 2000, the poverty head-count ratio in Bangladesh fell by 9 percent – an annual rate of decline of one percentage point. Between 1999 and 2004, the poverty head-count ratio fell by 5.3 percent (from 46.2% to 40.9%), depicting an annual rate of decline of 1.06 percent (BBS, 2004).

The reduction of poverty in the most recent times has been possible mainly because of a steady rate of economic growth. During the last decade, the economy grew consistently at around 5 percent a year. The growth rate reached a peak of 6.3% in 2002-03. For a sustained reduction of poverty, there is in fact no alternative to growth, which, therefore, is currently the government’s top priority.

Target 1: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar per day

Bangladesh has successfully achieved significant reduction in poverty since 1990. According to source of United Nation; national poverty headcounts declined from 56.6 percent in 1991-92 to 31.5 percent in 2010. The percentage of population under the lower poverty line, the threshold for extreme poverty, fell by 26.9 percent from 25 percent of the population in 2005 to 17.6 percent in 2010. The fall in poverty headcount rates was significantly more than the population growth during 2005-2010 leading to the decline in number of poor people. Real per capita consumption expenditure during 2005-2010 increased at an average annual rate of 16.9 percent with a higher increase in rural areas with compared to urban areas.

The sustained growth has been accompanied by corresponding improvement in several social indices in country such as increased life expectancy and lower fertile rate despite having the world’s highest population growth.

Poverty Gap Ratio:

Poverty gap ratio is the mean distance separating the population from the poverty line, expressed as a percentage of the poverty line. The poverty gap ratio is an indicator that measures the depth of poverty.

As per studies, poverty gap ratio in declination in Bangladesh is dramatic. Trends in the poverty gap show a drop from 17.20 in 1991-92 to 12.9 in 2000 and 9.00 in 2005 and finally 6.5 in 2010. Thus, the target of making the poverty gap half has already achieved which was due in 2015.

It is also worth noticing that poverty gap declined relatively more rapidly than the poverty headcount.

Target 2: Achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all

As per data from World Bank the GDP per person employed in Bangladesh was $3,722 in 2008 with a growth rate of 3.76 percent.

Employment to Population Ratio:

In Bangladesh the share of manufacturing sector in GDP has increased, while that of agriculture was declined. However, the service sector maintains the same level of contribution to GDP.

The reported unemployment in Bangladesh is low. The inclusion of the informal sector in the formal sector and subsequent slow employment generation in related sector remains challenge in Bangladesh. Overseas migration and remittances from 7 million expatriate Bangladeshis contribute directly to improvements in the Financial and development status of migrants’ families and communities.

Target 3: To reduce the proportion of people by half who suffer from hunger between 1990 and 2015

Nearly two-third of Bangladeshis Children were underweight in 1990 and less than half were underweight in 2009. Underweight prevalence rate fell sharply between 1992 and 2000. There were many reasons behind this declination which includes increased literacy of women, reduction of fertility rate, enhanced vaccination coverage, smaller family size, spread of vitamin A etc. Despite the above mentioned progress, Bangladesh in all likelihood may not meet its targets of halving the proportion of the population below the minimum level of dietary energy consumption by 2015.

Regional disparities exist in the proportion of the population with less than 2122kcals/day. More recently the Bangladesh household Food Security Nutrition Assessment 2008-2009 reported that population living in Barisal and Rajshahi division had worse food consumption scores in comparison with other divisions. The survey also found that female headed household and household in rural areas are food insecure compared to their respective counterpart.

Challenges:

  • Despite the linkage between poverty, hunger and employment. The progress towards hunger and employment related MDG targets have not been as encouraging as poverty.
  • The lack of diversity in Bangladesh food crop sector also poses a challenge and more emphasis on the production of non cereal crops.
  • Extreme poverty that exists in small pockets poses specific challenges, which need to be addressed.
  • Ensuring food security to different group of poor such as extreme poor people and potential poor refugees.
  • A major concern in the country is the persuasive underemployment which has prevented meeting MGD-1. The challenge is to ensure economic growth that is “Pro-Poor” and that can lead to more job, better employment and household income.

Sri Lanka on its way to combat HIV/AIDS and other dieases

Millennium Development Goal

GOAL 6:
Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases

Target 6.A:
Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS

Target 6.B:
Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it

Target 6.C:
Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases

COMBAT HIV/AIDS

Sri Lanka is among those few countries in the region which has a low-level HIV epidemic. According to the Millennium Development Goal country report 2008-09, a cumulative total of 1,029 persons have been detected with HIV infection, and 266 persons with AIDS. More than 60 percent of the reported HIV infections in 2006 were in the Western province.

An awareness survey was done in some districts of Sri Lanka to know that how much people are aware of the harmful effects and the way to overcome this epidemic disease.

According to a Survey done for Condom users, among married women using contraception, following points were reveled-

  • The condoms were accepted as a reliable contraceptive method and have been used increasingly among married couples and the percentage using them has doubled within the twenty year interval spanned by 1987 and 2007. On the average, 5.7 percent of married women using contraception have used condoms in 2006-07
  • Marginal differences are observed between the urban & rural sectors, but the contrast           is quite significant between the estate sector and the other areas, the preference for           condoms has being three times higher among urban and rural couples as against those in             the states.

However, the country is still vulnerable to the development of concentrated HIV epidemic due to the high-risk behavioral patterns and networks. And only about one-third of the population aged 15-24 years possesses comprehensive knowledge about HIV infection.

An official report shows that the deadly HIV is commonly spread in a people of age group 15-49 years and almost 80 percent lies in the group of 25-49 out of which 44 percent are women.

There is also different level of awareness against HIV in different districts of Sri Lanka among people. Only one person out of every three persons in this vulnerable age group has been able to reach the minimum standard required. It is observed that knowledge about HIV/AIDS is comparatively lower in the estate sector, among men as against women, and among teens (15-18years) as against the older age group of (18-24years). Awareness about the disease shows a positive correlation with the educational level of the individual.

MALARIA AND OTHER DISEASES

Even though spread of malaria occurs in most parts of the country, the overall malaria situation in Sri Lanka is improving significantly. Morbidity levels due to Malaria have seen a sharp downward trend since 1990, and it is no longer considered as a life threatening disease in Sri Lanka. Outbreaks of the infection in epidemic proportions have not been reported in the recent past. However, the disease has not been wiped out still in the endemic areas in the dry zone and conflict affected Northern and Eastern provinces.

Awareness among the people has helped to minimize the spread of Malaria in different districts of Sri Lanka. The widespread of knowledge of using bednet as a preventive method against malaria has significantly risen in all the districts of Sri Lanka. According to a survey an average of 62 percent of children below five years of age claims to sleep under a bednet. This practice also has some differences in rural and urban regions, The practice of using a bednet to protect pre-school children from the mosquito menace is highest among rural households (67%), followed by urban dwellings (53%).

Another serious health concern in Sri Lanka is spreading of Tuberculosis which is almost 8000 new cases every year and recent figures shows an increasing trends of the diseases over the year.

The overall incidence rate of TB stood at 42 per 100,000 population in 2006. It is much higher in Kandy, Vavuniya, Colombo and Kalutara districts .The risk of getting infected with TB appears to rise with age, with the lowest incidence rate reported for children under 14 years and the highest incidence rate for elders over 55 years of age.

Directly observed treatment short course (DOTS) was implemented initially in one district of Sri Lanka and later in whole island. The rise in the number of new cases was subsequently lowered by the implementation of DOTS in almost twenty two districts. A figure says that almost 83.3% TB cases in 2006 were cured in eleven districts out of twenty two districts where it was implemented.

So in all, we can say that Sri Lanka is on its track to achieve Millennium Development Goal of Combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases.

They Set Them, We Managed to Achieve Them

By Niyati Agrawal

“Through others we become ourselves.” –  Lev S. Vygotsky

Thirteen years ago, in the month of September, the United Nations and its member countries came together in the UN headquarters in New York and signed the United Nations Millennium Declaration. This declaration, most commonly known as the Millennium Development Goals, urges its member countries and world leaders to come together and solve certain problems of the world which are broadly classified into 8 goals. The goals laid down were: eradicating extreme hunger and poverty; achieving universal primary education; promotion of gender equality and empowering women; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combating diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria, diabetes; ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development. These set goals of the individual countries are to be achieved in roughly two years from now, i.e. by 2015.

The Latin American countries have made tremendous progress in achieving these goals. According to the Australian-Venezuela Network, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is one of the leaders in accomplishing this set task. In 2003, around 28.9% of the Venezuelan population was living under poverty line. By 2011, it was reduced to 6.8%. The food production of the country has also risen by a margin of 44% in 2010, as compared to that of 1998.

The literacy rate of the country has seen the most progress, with an increase in the enrolment of students, who receive primary education to 92.33%. In the year 2005, UNESCO declared Venezuela free of illiteracy and ranked in amongst the top five in the category of access to university education. One of the problems with the education admission was that there were lesser number of female students enrolled as compared to the males. In 2009, it was recorded that more women were admitted to receive university education than men.

The infant mortality rate has seen a decrease to 13.7 per 1000 live births in 2007 as opposed to that of 19 per 1000 live births. The maternal mortality rate has also decreased to 56.8 per 1000 live births. The number still is very high, however there has been a progress and there still are roughly two years left. The number of people receiving free antiretroviral therapy (a combination of vaccines given to suppress the spread of HIV) has also increased from 1,059 in 1999 to 25,657 in 2008. There has been a massive and notable amplification of primary health care doctors from 1,928 in 1998 to 19,500 in the year 2009.

To carry out the environment developmental goal, over 50,000 members of environmental conservation committees have planted roughly 22,000 acres of trees in Venezuela. The usage of pesticide in farming has also remarkably reduced and over 24 million people of the country now receive safe drinking water.

Since the inception of the Millennium Developmental Goals, critics have said that these goals are over ambitious. They even said that these goals are set collectively and are also measured globally which isn’t a fair ground to judge an individual country’s progress. While the argument is very valid, one cannot deny the progress Venezuela has made. It is an example that no matter who sets the goal, if a country wants to, then it can and will be able to reach and climb the ladder of development. And as for being at par with the other countries’ development, it is very important for a country to realise its individual problems and goals before it starts to compare itself globally.

References:

 

The Australian Donor – Elitist Idea of Development

By Niyati Agrawal

“Development is about transforming the lives of people, not just transforming economies.”

–          Joseph E. Stiglitz, Making Globalization Work

Australia is committed to help reach the Millennium Development Goals set by the UN. It is one of the major donor countries which helps other developing and under developing countries achieve their goals. AusAID is the government agency that oversees the country’s contribution to the achievement of the goals. It has improved the lives of many individuals and nations across the world, with majority of work taking place in the Asia- Pacific region.

The progress made by AusAID is remarkable. It has been successful in eradicating hunger and poverty is countries of Asia and Africa. To achieve this goal Australia has funded the World Food Programme, helped in improving infrastructure like bridges and roads and promoted and provided agricultural amenities like cattle, equipments and seeds to countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Uganda and other few islands in South Asia. It also has encouraged local techniques of farming.

With the help of the MDGs 40 million children are able to gain education. In Indonesia alone, Australian help has built 2000 primary schools and also trains teachers to provide better quality of education. In countries like Pakistan, Vanuatu and Nepal, Australia is rigorously promoting gender equality by encouraging employment and leadership of women and elimination of violence against them.

Child mortality is one of the grave issues that Australia has been able to curb down. Medical assistance by the country has shown a sharp decrease in child deaths due to malaria in countries like Ethiopia and Rwanda. Another big achievement is the provision of treatment for HIV/AIDS in least developed countries. The work by Australia has managed to provide treatment to over four million people.

While the work done by Australia is commendable, a major point of argument that still lies is whether the idea of development that these donor countries have is the same as that of the least developed countries. The developmental practices that are globally conducted are not only eradicating poverty and diseases but also the traditional and domestic culture of the aided countries. It is subtle imperialism by the donor and developed countries through monetary help rather than military dominance. Another setback that these goals have had is the global recession of 2008. The developed countries were the worst affected which has led to a holdup in carrying out and meeting the target set in the Millennium Development Goals by the end of 2015. The funds allocated by the developed nations aren’t necessary in the same scheme where the under developed need the most help. The majority of accomplishment is to be done at an individual level by the countries.

While the donor countries are doing a good job, won’t it be better that if they help the needy countries in the areas they still require the most help? It may be a greedy argument but it is time that the elite of the world sees the problems through the eyes of the poor and not what they think might be the real issue.

References:

Is Our Individual Progress Important or Global Targets?

By Niyati Agrawal

“A fourth-grade reader may be a sixth-grade mathematician. The grade is an administrative device which does violence to the nature of the developmental process.” ― B.F. Skinner, Walden Two

The Republic of Indonesia was also one of the signatories to take part in the United Nations Declaration of the Millennium Development Goals. As the deadline draws near, Indonesia struggles to meet the targets.

While the percentage of population living with income below US $1 has reduced by 13.1% from 1990 to 2011; the portion of people living below the national poverty line has increased. The prevalence of severe underweight children, below the age of 5, has risen from 6.3% in 1990 to 8.8 in 2011.

The maternal mortality ratio which was targeted to be at 110 per every 100,000 live births is recorded to be 228 in 2011. In the year 1990 it was 390. Not much difference is seen in the numbers in the past two decades. It still is the highest in the South East Asian region. This area requires a lot of improvement which might be a little difficult considering that 2015 is only a couple of years away.

Another drawback that the country sees is the spread of HIV/AIDS. The infection is stretching immensely in the urban areas. The curbing of Malaria is increasing but the process is very slow and is likely to not be achieved by the cut-off date. Not only are the health of people is suffering, the environment is also at a great risk in the country.

The country has a notable increase in the practice of deforestation and the volume of carbon dioxide commission is decreasing but again at a very slow rate and not at par with the required progress. The proportion of household with sustainable water supply through pipeline and sanitation in the urban and rural areas is also increasing but at a snail’s pace.

However it is not appropriate to say that the country hasn’t made a progress. The country has seen a huge amplification in its literacy rate with approximately 95% of children enrolled in primary school and 99.4% literacy rate of population between the age of 15 and 24. The ratio of female students to male students has also increased, making it 100% and hence achieving the target set. The infant mortality rate has also decreased from 97 in 1990 to 40 in 2011 (per 1000 live births). The target is set at 32 which is likely to be achieved.

When compared to other countries like Venezuela or China, Indonesia has not made a drastic progress or doesn’t even seem likely to meet all the targets set by the UN. However does meeting these global goals matter or the individual progress of a country matters? Each country has their own pace at which they grow and develop. The development depends on individual factors like availability of resources, economic position when compared to other countries, the cultural and historic factors and most importantly the intensity of the situation in the country while these goals were set.

So comparing the progress of Indonesia to another country is not justified. As compared to the 1960, when the country was formed into a republic, is it at a better place now? Yes, it sure is. In 1960 only 30% of the population could read and write, but today over 90% of the coming generation is literate and enrolled in schools. The average life expectancy age has increased from 41 years in the 1960 to above 67 years in 2011.

So is the country developing? I would say yes. It isn’t necessary to meet the targets that the rich countries of the UN has set, what matters is whether the people of the country are living a better life and are getting the basic necessities? Better education and increased life expectancy are just two aspects. Equality amongst genders has increased and there is a steady growth of healthy population which in the coming years is very crucial to the progress of the country. One needs to remember that Indonesia at the inception of these goals was an under developed country. It still might be compared to other countries but the effort it is taking in creditable. It may not achieve all the goals by 2015, but it sure has made a start towards it and somewhere down the line, it as a country will pull through.

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Charity Begins At Home

By Niyati Agrawal

“People.. were poor not because they were stupid or lazy. They worked all day long, doing complex physical tasks. They were poor because the financial institution in the country did not help them widen their economic base.” ― Muhammad Yunus, Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty

Australia is said to be one of the top four donors of the Millennium Development Goals Declaration of the United Nations. However in a bid to help the least developed countries’ progress, it is ignoring the development of its own indigenous people.

As of 2009, over half a million people of Australia were living below the poverty line. These people comprise of the Aboriginal Australians and the Torres Strait Islanders who are the natives of the islands which are the part of the state of Queensland in Australia and are genetically linked to the locals of Papua New Guinea.

Low income and poverty often leads to lack of health facilities, mortality rate, education, and may lead to violence and social crimes. In the year 2006 the unemployment rate of indigenous people reduced to 16% from that of 20% in the year 2001; however the unemployment rate of the non-indigenous people also reduced from 7% to 5%.[1]

Unemployment in the non-conventional occupations is also a result of lack of education. The reasons for this as stated by Australian Institute of Health and Welfare are chronic health problems faced by the people, lack of access to educational institutes, financial constraints and social barriers. According to the Council of Australian Governments Reform Council Report on 2010, only 45.5% of indigenous population held a certificate of Year 12 of school education as opposed to 85% of the non indigenous population.

The state of the indigenous women is even worse. There has been an increase of 25% of imprisonment rate of indigenous women from 2000 to 2004. And around 45 women from every 1000 are subjected to family violence. There has also been an increase of suicide rate from 7 in 100 000 to 17 as opposed to 5 per 100 000 in the non indigenous women. [2]

While Australia has helped in improving the infant mortality rate of other countries, it still lags behind in finding a solution for this problem in its own home. The mortality rate of an indigenous infant is 2 to 4 times higher than a non indigenous infant. And these native children are more exposed to child abuse in terms of being abused emotionally. Child sexual abuse is not seen in indigenous families across the country.

The native Australians and Islanders are more exposed to diseases and chronic health problems caused due to smoking, obesity and alcohol consumption. The common illnesses found are kidney diseases and asthma. 65% of the indigenous people are reported to have at least one long term disease as per the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey Report of 2004-2005. They also suffer from low life expectancy rate, the average being 67 years.

To add to the problems faced by the natives, there are environmental and land issues. Majority of the mines in Australia are located in these native regions. The people of these areas are hence subjected to loss of housing, violence and assault.

Thulsi Narayanasamy who is the campaign co-ordinator for the AID/WATCH a watchdog company which looks over the aiding done by the Australian governments has said that it is the private interests of businesses that provide aid to government organisations which work towards fulfilling the international developmental goals.[3] These big companies benefit from global exposure and get recognition in the market.

The government is also at fault to be ignoring the problems of its own people and allowing aid to other countries. Unless support from the top level is rendered, the condition of the indigenous people is difficult to be improved. It is very crucial to protect the natives in order to carry forward the traditional history of the country. While Australia maybe looked upon as a “developed” country, it needs to first improve the situation at home then proceed to developing the others.