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18.01.2005 General News

Ghana unlikely to meet some millennium goals - Expert

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Accra, Jan. 18, GNA - Ghana is unlikely to achieve three of the eight targets set in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) being spearheaded by the United Nations in an effort to half poverty worldwide by 2015.

Specifically, Ghana may not be able to meet targets for reducing child mortality rate to 78 lives per 1,000 live births; improve maternal health by two-thirds, which is equal to 54 lives per 100,000 and reduce the incidence of malaria and HIV/AIDS.

The current statistics indicate that under-five year mortality, which stood at 155 lives per 1,000 live births dropped to 100 lives per 1,000 within 12 years as recorded in 1990 and 2002, respectively.

Maternal mortality per 100,000 births was 280 in 1993 but declined to 250 in 2003. Three per cent of the adult population between 15 years and 49 years in Ghana was infected with HIV in 2002 and the figure increased to 3.6 per cent in 2003 while the incidence of malaria declined from 0.44 per cent in 1989 to only 0.41 per cent in 1998.

Professor George Gyan-Baffour, Member of the Team that undertook the Ghana MDG needs assessment, said at the launch of the UN MDG Report in Accra on Tuesday that although a lot of effort had gone into meeting the targets, the nation was unlikely to achieve the goals at the current pace.

Mr Joseph Henry Mensah, Acting Senior Minister, launched Ghana's copy of the Report.

The millennium goals are internationally agreed development outcomes intended to elicit national responses through initiatives and strategies geared towards reducing poverty and improving the standard of living of the poor in society.

Efforts to meet the targets as set by the UN require developing countries to pursue and implement development programmes while the developed nations are expected to support the former through aid. The rest of the eight targets are to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; achieve gender equality; ensure environmental sustainability and create a global partnership for development.

According to Prof Gyan-Baffour, poverty in Ghana declined from 52 per cent in 1992 to 40 per cent in 1999 representing a decline of 1.8 per cent per annum.

Based on this projection, the proportion of the estimated population that would be below the poverty line is between 9.2 per cent and 12 per cent compared to a target of 20 per cent.

With reference to the target for hunger, Prof Gyan-Baffour said the proportion of children underweight was 27 per cent in 1992 but declined to 25 per cent in 1999 and 23.3 per cent in 2003.

The projections based on these figures indicate that the prevalence of underweight children would be 21 per cent as against MDG target of 14.

He said Ghana's net primary enrolment rate was 58 per cent in 1999 and 69.9 per cent in 2003 and a projection with the figures indicated a target of 82.8 per cent as against 100 per cent MDG target.

Efforts to promote gender equality saw the proportion of female enrolment in primary schools to male ratio increase from 0.82 in 1996 to 0.87 in 1996 and 0.90 in 2000 and Prof Gyan-Baffour said he believed the goal of 1:1 could only be achieved by increasing investment and interventions for the promotion of girl's education.

On Ghana's progress on environmental sustainability, Prof Gyan-Baffour said access to safe water rose from 49 per cent in 1990 to 74 per cent in 1998 and to 74.1 per cent in 2003, which indicated that the country could achieve access to safe water by 2015.

On the whole, the target to ensure that debt service to GDP ratio reduces to a sustainable level is likely to be achieved, as the debt service GDP ratio of 6.2 per cent in 1990 reduced to 2.4 per cent in 2002.

Prof Gyan-Baffour said the assessment indicated that Ghana would require a total of 21 billion dollars in the next 10 years to be able to achieve the MDGs.

A breakdown of the figure indicated an annual resource requirement of 2.1 billion dollars, Prof Gyan-Baffour said: "Assuming that about 60 per cent of our investment budget is obtained from donor sources, we will need about 1.3 billion dollars annually from ODAs and other sources locally and outside."

The figure represents a financing gap of 13 billion dollars over the next 10 years.

Prof Gyan-Baffour said central to achieving the MDGs was the need to ensure linkages between the MDGs and national planning and budgetary networks and broad national ownership and participation.

He said to achieve this Ghana was closely knitting the MDGs into her national development agenda.

"The ongoing update of the GPRS is the major avenue for ensuring effective integration of the MDGs into the national agenda."

Various taskforce groups established under the Millennium Project by the UN undertook a diagnosis to identify key constraints to meet the goals for which a report was presented to the UN in Washington on Monday.

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