India way behind on WHO health targets

The WHO’s annual World Health Statistics for 2015, which was released recently in Geneva, says that India has met only four targets under the Millenium Development Goals (MDG), and has made next to no progress on another four.

Important observations made by the Report:

  • Globally, life expectancy at birth has increased by six years for both men and women since 1990.
  • By the end of this year if current trends continue, the world will have met global targets for turning around the epidemics of HIV, malaria and tuberculosis and increasing access to safe drinking water. It will also have made substantial progress in reducing child undernutrition, maternal and child deaths, and increasing access to basic sanitation.
  • Progress in child survival worldwide is one of the greatest success stories of international development and pre-term birth complications have replaced neo-natal complications and disease as the biggest source of mortality for children under the age of five.
  • Since 1990, child deaths have almost halved — falling from an estimated 90 deaths per 1000 live births to 46 deaths per 1000 live births in 2013. Yet the world will not achieve the MDG target of reducing the death rate by two-thirds. Less than one-third of all countries have achieved or are on track to meet this target by the end of this year. The top killers of children aged less than 5 years are now: pre-term birth complications, pneumonia, birth asphyxia and diarrhoea.
  • In India, life expectancy grew by eight years between 1990 and 2013. While India has sharply reduced its infant mortality between 2000 and 2013, it still contributes for the most infant deaths globally. Non-communicable diseases are the top killers, followed by communicable diseases and injuries.

In September, countries will decide on new goals for 2030. In addition to finishing the MDG agenda, the post-2015 agenda needs to tackle emerging challenges, including the growing impact of non-communicable diseases, like diabetes and heart disease, and the changing social and environmental determinants that affect health.

MDGs: What are they?

These are eight international development goals that were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. They were set to be achieved by 2015.

  • These are time-bound and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty in its many dimensions-income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion-while promoting gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability.
  • They are also basic human rights-the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter, and security.
  • Since the adoption, there has been significant progress in many of the goals. But the progress has not been uniform. The progress differs from country to country and even within the country.

millenium development goals chart

The eight millennium development goals are:

  1. Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty
  2. Achieve Universal Primary Education
  3. Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
  4. Reduce Child Mortality
  5. Improve Maternal Health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases
  7. Ensure Environmental Sustainability
  8. Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Each goal has specific targets, and dates for achieving those targets.

India and MDGs:

In India, considerable progress has been made in the field of basic universal education, gender equality in education, and global economic growth. However there is slow progress in the improvement of health indicators related to mortality, morbidity, and various environmental factors contributing to poor health conditions. Even though the government has implemented a wide array of programs, policies, and various schemes to combat these health challenges, further intensification of efforts and redesigning of outreach strategies is needed to give momentum to the progress toward achievement of the MDGs.

  • India is unlikely to achieve all the set targets by September 2015.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, MDG Fund, UNDP.

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