The United Nations hosted the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit in New York City last month, with the participation of over 120 global leaders from both developed countries and emerging markets. This year’s summit was an especially momentous occasion since it marks 10 years since the Goals were set into motion and begins the 5 year countdown to 2015 when the goals are to be met.
At the awards ceremony on September 19th, both Bangladesh and Nepal received MDG country awards for advancements towards the development goals in health indicators with India receiving a nomination for greatly increasing access to education.
We asked South Asia's Human Development Director, Michal Rutkowski about these achievements.
Bangladesh is well on its way to achieving MDG 4, Reducing Child Mortality. The mortality rate for children under 5 years of age has decreased dramatically from 146 deaths per 1000 live births in 1990 to 65 per 1000 in 2007, a reduction of over 50% and far exceeding the global average of a 28% and the highest rate of improvement among low income countries.
What has been the source of this success? On the health front, the key has been equitable access and low cost projects; immunizations now cover 82% of children under two and Vitamin A supplementation cover 88.3% of children under five. Prevention and treatment of diarrheal diseases through oral rehydration has also been instrumental in reducing mortality. Concurrently with cost effective and equitable support is the impressive rate of growth in inclusive education and economic growth.
Nepal won the country award for its progress towards MDG 5, Reducing Maternal Mortality, which has decreased by almost 50% from 530 deaths per 100,000 live births to 28 per 100,000 between 1996 and 2006. This progress has been made through increasing access to skilled antenatal care and skilled birth attendance. All 75 districts in Nepal now have facilities for 24-hour delivery service.
A key catalyst for this success has been the government’s incentives towards offsetting transport and logistics costs. Families now receive a payment to offset these expenses and health workers are paid to attend deliveries at home if facilities are not easily accessible.
Countries in South Asia still face substantial challenges ahead in meeting the MDGs and much hard work remains. Other countries in the region still face serious challenges in reducing maternal and child mortality and it’s important to learn from respective experiences in order to replicate success.
We asked Michal Rutkowski whether and how other countries can learn from these awards.
What do you think?