Friday, July 08, 2011

UN notes Zambia’s progress on MDGs

UN notes Zambia’s progress on MDGs
By Masuzyo Chakwe
Fri 08 July 2011, 15:20 CAT

ZAMBIA has recorded many successes in its efforts to achieve its national millennium development goals, says the United Nations. The UN yesterday launched the global MDG progress report for 2011 in Geneva, and concurrently around the world, to raise awareness on the progress this far and further acceleration required to achieve the MDGs by 2015.

UN resident coordinator Kanni Wignaraja said Zambia had shared many successes, particularly in its efforts to improve primary education and health.

Wignaraja said in order to move to the next level of progress and to sustain gains made possible through sustained economic growth, there was need to look to further human development investments in agriculture that would yield decent jobs.

She said both net enrolment and the number of pupils reaching grade seven had grown steadily over the past few years and the targets of secondary school completion and quality must now be the focus.

Wignaraja said successes had also been seen in Zambia’s fight against HIV and AIDS, and with prevalence rates now at 14.3 per cent of the population, the country had surpassed its MDG target in this area.

“This, however, leaves no room for complacency, with much work remaining particularly in addressing the root causes of HIV which sustain high levels of vulnerability in sectors of the population with new infections, on average 200 people per month,” she said.

Wignaraja noted that the prevalence of underweight children had fallen to 14.6 per cent, not far from the 2015 goal of 12.5 per cent.

“The global report provides evidence and pointers to reducing maternal mortality and child and infant mortality rates, that are still some distance away, per the national data here in Zambia,” Wignaraja said.

She said women giving birth in Zambia remain at high risk, with a maternal mortality rate of 591 per 100,000 live births.

Wignaraja said the MDG goal to be realized in four years was 162 per 100,000 live births.

She said the global report showed that progress on the MDGs had been uneven and the overall gains mask local specific disparities in most countries.

Wignaraja said in sub-Saharan Africa, the poorest urban households were 12 times less likely than their richest neighbours to have access to piped drinking water supply.

“Similarly, in rural areas, children are twice as likely to be underweight as their urban cousins. Countries in, or emerging from, conflict, are likely to lag 40 to 60 per cent behind other low and middle-income countries in achieving most of the goals,” she said.

She said to accelerate and sustain the required rate of poverty reduction in Zambia, the application of a broad based job creation effort, particularly in rural areas was key.

Wignaraja further noted that expanding education and business opportunities for women and closing the gender gap in decision-making positions would also go a long way to ensure a more gender balanced progress on the MDGs for Zambia.

Moving forward, the UN report noted the importance of focusing on equity and inclusion in the reach and acceleration towards the MDGs in the coming four years, and beyond.

Wignaraja said for countries like Zambia, this meant that the poorest and most marginalised groups often in rural settings were made the focus of policy choices, and national development investments and programmes.

The UN launched a number of major partnerships and initiatives, such as Countdown to Zero, a global plan toward the elimination of new HIV infections among children; UN-Redd to reduce deforestation and promote sustainable livelihoods and scaling up nutrition; global strategy for women’s and children’s health, among many others.

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