In yesterday’s editorial we dealt with Guyana’s update on its efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by focusing on the first goal – To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. In this editorial we examine the other seven goals.
The second one, to “achieve universal primary education,” has been addressed with gusto by the government and Guyana appears to be well on its way to achieving this goal. The greatest effort will have to be placed in the hinterland and remote communities. The quality of primary education is gradually improving with the continued focus on teacher training. However, the literacy rate of 15-24 year olds needs to be improved.
The third goal is “to promote gender equality and empower women” and the targets were to “eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015”. There is no question that Guyana has achieved this goal, and as a young participant of the launch pointed out, there is now the problem of boys falling behind. Women in Parliament and employed in the non-agricultural sector are also rising.
The fourth goal is to “reduce child mortality”. Here the target was to “reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate” and once again taking 1990 as a base year presents problems. In 1991 Guyana had a horrendous under-five mortality rate of 120 per 1000 live births so that while by 2008 this had been reduced to 17 per 1000 to meet the goal, the latter number is still not acceptable. Barbados, for instance has a rate of 11.
Goal five is to “improve maternal health” with the target being to “reduce by three-quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio”. Starting from an astronomical 320 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2008 the reduction to 86 by 2008 shows that the goal of 80 is within reach. But Barbados is 69 and the US 24 in maternal mortality. The government concedes that we have a ways to go especially in the indicators of increasing the “proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel”.
The sixth goal also concerned health and intended to “combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases” with the target to have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS. The achievement of this target demonstrates that if the international community – especially the developed countries – put their money where their mouths are, all of the MMG’s can be achieved. The US, in particular identified HIV/AIDS as a priority to be controlled and provided, funding, personnel and drugs to combat the disease. From a prevalence rate of 7.1 percent in 1995, this had dropped to 1.1 by 2009. A similar goal for malaria and TB has also been reached.
Goal seven was intended to “Ensure Environmental Sustainability,” with the first target to “integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources.” Now if there is any goal that Guyana can take a bow on it is this one. The Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) unfurled by the government and its concomitant carbon sequestration program ensures the fulfilment of the goal. The second target to “halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation” has also been met.
Lastly there was the goal to “Develop a Global Partnership for Development” which from the targets established was directed more towards the rich developed countries. For instance there is the target to “develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system “. The WTO’s Doha Development Round launched in 2001 was intended to accomplish this goal but it has stalled precisely because of the refusal of the developed countries to make accommodations.
There has been no noticeable reduction of the indicator that called for a reduction on the “average tariffs imposed by developed countries on agricultural products and textiles and clothing from developing countries”. Guyana should lobby as part of CariCom for Doha to get back on track.
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