Uganda will today release its report on the country’s performance on the Millennium Development Goals which shows mixed progress in achieving the targets. The eight MDGs, set 10 years ago, range from halving poverty to combating the spread of HIV/Aids and achieving Universal Primary Education by 2015.
Uganda’s MDG scorecard report 2010, the third in a series to be published by the Ministry of Finance, shows there has been a dramatic decline in poverty levels from 56 per cent in 1992 to a current 31 per cent. The MDG target is 25 per cent. Access to clean drinking water and enrollment at primary school level has also increased significantly.
But the report shows the country is trailing on health-related goals of reducing maternal and child deaths. Under five and infant mortality rates are still high at 137 and 78 per 1,000 live births respectively while maternal mortality is at 435 per 100,000 births. To meet the targets, child and infant deaths should reduce to 58 and 31 respectively while maternal mortality should decline to 131 per 100,000 births.
Speaking at the MDG review summit in New York in September, President Museveni acknowledged that Uganda was unlikely to meet these two targets in the remaining five years. “It is only in the areas of maternal and child health that we may not achieve the set targets by 2015,” he said while addressing the 65th UN General Assembly. As a result, the government is today expected to announce a new strategy for achieving these elusive goals in the remaining five years.
Known as the National Millennium Development Goal Acceleration Framework, it spells out a series of practical solutions which the government hopes, if implemented, can significantly drive progress. Some of the strategies government is putting in place include making available emergency obstetric care, ensuring women have access to a skilled attendance at birth, family planning and effective antenatal care.
Dr Jotham Musinguzi, a development expert on population and reproductive health, says huge investment in health infrastructure will be key to meeting the maternal and child-related goals. But it is not only maternal and child health targets that are off-track. According to the report, while primary school enrollment has reached 93 per cent against a target of 100 per cent, completion rates are still low at 52 per cent.
The report shows that despite this uneven progress, the goals are still achievable. It further shows that significant challenges in sustaining past gains, including an increase in new infections still stand in the way of meeting the Aids-related targets. “Population growth is adding to the absolute numbers of new infections, as is transmission of HIV between older age groups, especially those that are married or cohabitating,” reveals the report.