Thursday, 11 March 2010

On Millennium Development Goals

RP has improved from Marcos years
Manila Bulletin

The Philippines, financially bankrupt and mired in poverty after the ravages of Martial Law, has improved in many aspects.

This is gleaned from the monitoring done on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) as set by the United Nations in 2000 aimed at reducing poverty and the worst forms of human deprivation by 2015. (Figures monitored by NEDA).

In terms of poverty, Filipinos below the threshold of poverty ($1.00/day income) has decreased from 45% (1990) to 33% (2006).

This is validated by a child malnutrition ratio that showed the rate of underweight Filipino children (below 5 years old) dropped from 34% (1990) to 26%The Philippines, financially bankrupt and mired in poverty after the ravages of Martial Law, has improved in many aspects. (2008).

In education, although primary school enrollment ratio remained the same, those who completed primary (elementary) school hiked from 64% (1990) to 73% (2003).

Touching on gender equality for women, the ratio of female: Male students attending primary, secondary and tertiary levels was similar.

The improvement is shown in the share of women employed in non-agricultural sector which rose from 40% (1990) to 42% (2007). More women now help their husbands keep the household afloat financially.

It is in politics where “woman power” is at its dramatic best when in (1982) there were only 10% females in Congress, by 2007 2 of 10 Congressmen/Senators are from the fairer sex.

In health matters, children dying under 5 years of age slipped dramatically from a terrifying 80% (1990) to only 33% (2008). Death at childbirth also decreased from 57% (1990) to 25% (2008).

The latter statistic can be partly explained by the fact that the proportion of births attended by skilled health workers improved from 59% (1990) to 73% (2007).

In treating prevalent diseases, the use of condom (only “sure” defense vs. AIDS) increased only slightly from 1.0% (1993) to 1.8% (2009) owing to the lack of education and the conservative Catholic culture.

However, deaths caused by malaria from 1.5% (1990) slipped to only 0.3% (2008) while deaths due to TB, still a killer disease, slightly dropped from 39.1% (1990) to 33.0% (2003).

The Tropical Disease Foundation, led by Dra. Thelma Tupasi, has been at the forefront of the anti-TB fight nationwide in this decade. TB patients cured by monitored treatment in RP jumped from 73% (2001) to 83% (2006)-signaling a breakthrough in TB treatment.

Of late, the issue on the environment has likewise taken center stage globally. How has RP fared in this regard?

Mercifully, with the log ban and the reforestation programs, the ratio of land area now covered with forests in RP moved from just 20% (1990) to 53% (2006).

Awareness has also resulted in the hike in protected areas for biodiversity from 8.5% (1990) to 13% (2006) while consumption of ozone-depleting CFs dropped significantly from 2981 (1990) to only 681 (2006). Filipinos are now also using less solid for fuel at 42% (2008) from 66% (1990).

On the other hand, people with access to clean water went up from 73% (1998) to 88% (2004).

It is in the areas of getting security of tenure for slum dwellers where the picture is getting worse.

Those with secured tenant tenures are now only 81% (2000) from 91% (1990). This ratio could also mean that rapid population growth and poverty have pushed more Filipinos to become slum dwellers.

Finally, in terms of the economy, the silver lining lies in the fact that debt service of RP as a proportion to exports has been reduced markedly to only 9.6% (2006) from a high 27% (1990).The black mark remains in the unemployment rate of Filipinos aged 15-24 which worsened from 11% (1990) to 17% (2008).

One can perhaps conclude that amid massive unemployment, poverty incidence has slowed down primarily due to the huge US$18-billion OFW inward remittances.

Though the 2015 United Nations benchmark targets appear daunting in some areas, the return of democracy and laissez faire are on the side favoring the improvement of the plight of many impoverished Filipinos reeling from the effects of the debilitating Marcos’ years.

The MDG goals are a “must- know“ agenda that ought to be mastered by all candidates running for office in May 2010.

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