THE Philippines is likely to miss three of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) such as eradicating poverty, improving education and improving maternal health care due to a number of challenges it has faced the past years, according to the latest indicators presented yesterday during the launch of the 4th official report on the MDGs.
Jacqui Badcock, resident coordinator of the United Nations in the Philippines said the Philippines’s slow pace of progress in some areas has been disappointing but nonetheless expressed optimism on the plans of the new government, the administration of President Benigno Aquino III in achieving the goals by 2015.
“I think it’s been a little disappointing that there has been a decline in the last couple of years but what I see is a renewed energy in the current administration," Badcock said yesterday on the sidelines of the launching of the latest progress report.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga Jr. said the government would put in place specific measures to improve boost economic growth which would help achieve the MDGs.
The eight MDGs are a set of specific and time-bound development goals committed by the governments to be achieved by 2015, suing 1990 data as baseline.
The eight goals are to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and women empowerment, reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat diseases; ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development.
Of these goals, the report said that the government should improve its focus on reducing poverty, improving education and achieving maternal health.
It should also focus on improving the performance of boys in basic education as well as on reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDs in the country.
On the other hand, the report said the country has high probabilities of meeting the targets of reducing child mortality; promoting women empowerment, reversing the incidence of malaria and tuberculosis and providing access to sanitary facilities which according to the report has already been surpassed.
In terms of specific indicators, the MDG progress report, presented by Paderanga noted for the first indicator which is eradicating extreme poverty and hunger that “it is likely that the target of halving extreme poverty by 2015 will be achieved.”
In the area of hunger, Paderanga said the proportion of population living below the subsistence threshold has dropped to 14.6 percent in 2006 from 24.3 percent in 1991. This is projected to go down to 12.15 percent by 2015.
Furthermore, Paderanga said that the proportion of population living below the poverty threshold has gone down to 32.9 percent in 2006 from 45.3 percent in 1991. This is targeted to go down to 22.7 percent by 2015.
For the second goal, the report said that the country is lagging behind in achieving universal primary education.
For the third goal which is achieving gender equality and empowering women, the government said that the gender gap in education “appears to be in favor of girls.”
In the area of child mortality, the fourth development goal, Paderanga said there has been a significant reduction in child mortality.
The MDG report noted that the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births has gone down to 25 in 2008 from 57 in 1990.
The number of deaths among children under five years of age has gone down to 34 in 2008 from 80 deaths in 1990.
On the other hand, the Philippines is struggling to meet development goal number five which is to improve maternal health.
Paderanga said there is a slow decline in maternal mortality ratio and that the target of universal access to reproductive health by 2015 is unlikely to be achieved.
The number of deaths per 100,000 live births remains at a high of 162 as of 2006 from 209 in 1990.
For the goal on combating HIV, AIDS and Malaria, the government said the number of cases has grown, suggesting that infection has spread, not reversed.
In the area of environmental sustainability, the MDG report said that there is “medium probability that the target on access to safe drinking water will be achieved.”
In fact, he said the target on access to sanitary toilet facilities has been surpassed.
The last and final goal which is to develop a global partnership for development is achievable, according to the report. It said one indicator of this is that mobile phone and internet subscription are on the increasing trend.
Paderanga said challenges remain but stressed that the Aquino administration would exert all that it can to realize the MDGs within the next five years.
“We have to reduce the cost of doing business so that investments would come in,” he said.
There would also be greater emphasis on the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program of the government.
Under the program, the government provides cash subsidies to indigents but on certain conditions such as sending their children to school and going on regular health check ups.
“The economy needs to attract local and foreign investments to spur economic growth. To do this, physical infrastructure has to be improved, water and power have to be made available at competitive rates and more transparent systems in doing business need to be established,” the MDG report said.
It said that the country’s high population growth rate, peace and security concerns and governance issues are also some of the issues that need to be addressed in the next five years so as to facilitate the achievement of the MDGs.