UN MDG Goals- should we celebrate?

The United Nations this week released its Millennium Development Goals Report and it seems to be a mix of progress and setbacks. The MDGs were established around 2000, and consist of eight targets that nations around the world committed to meeting. They are to: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability and global partnership development.

It is now 2015, the year to account for these goals. Some good news first specific to the Latin American and Caribbean region: the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 per day fell from 13 per cent in 1990 to four per cent in 2015.

In terms of “gender parity,” for being represented in Parliament, at 27 per cent, this is the highest proportion in the developing world and higher than some developed regions.

The child mortality rate was reduced (and the target met) to 17 per 100,000 deaths in 2015 from 54 per 100,000 in 1990. And HIV infections dropped 56 per cent from 2010 to 2015.

Now, the more disturbing news: one in five people in the Caribbean are “undernourished,” while the rate for Latin America has decreased to five per cent. Enrollment rates at primary schools: only 82 per cent of children are enrolled compared to 95 per cent in Latin America. The report also says the overall region has made “slow progress” in reducing adolescent births; I wonder what that means.

It would be interesting to see how Jamaica compares to the rest of the Caribbean. I would also be interested to know the breakdown for Latin American countries, especially for those that are essentially in civil war situations right now, such as Honduras and El Salvador and Guatemala.

As always, the true picture is on the ground, not in a colorful, thick report compiled to meet a deadline.

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