Jamaica Making Significant Progress in Most MDG Targets


Jamaica has made significant progress in eight of the 14 United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets for 2015, according to the national MDG report, jointly undertaken by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
The report, which was officially launched at the PIOJ on Thursday (May 28), highlights significant progress by Jamaica in the areas of poverty and hunger reduction; the attainment of universal primary education; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; improved mental health; and environmental sustainability.
Completed earlier this month, it discusses key relevant issues within national and regional contexts, and is expected to be presented by Health and Environment Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, during the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) meeting in Geneva, Switzerland in July.
This meeting will focus on the theme: ‘Implementing the Internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to global public health’.
The ECOSOC was established under the United Nations Charter, as the principal organisation to co-ordinate economic, social, and other related work. ECOSOC serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues, and for formulating policy recommendations addressed to member states, and the United Nations.
It is responsible for promoting higher standards of living, full employment, and economic and social progress. Additionally, it aims to identify solutions to international economic, social and health problems; facilitate international cultural and educational cooperation; and encourage universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In 2005, ECOSOC was mandated to hold AMRs to facilitate efforts towards implementation of the United Nations Development Agenda (UNDA). AMRs provide an opportunity for countries to make national voluntary presentations, which will enable them to present an assessment of their progress towards the achievement of the UNDA.
Last year, the Government of Jamaica, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, agreed to participate in this year’s AMR, with the PIOJ co-ordinating preparation of the report.
This undertaking has been managed by a PIOJ-led steering committee comprising public and private sector professionals, drawn from the areas of education, health, agriculture, environment, social protection and external co-operation.
In presenting the document at the launch, Project Consultant, Jenny Jones, reported significant achievements in the MDG targets for the eradication of poverty and hunger, and the achievement of universal primary education since 1990.
She said these are halving the proportion of persons living below the poverty line, as well as suffering from hunger. Up to 2007, Jamaica was able to reduce poverty and hunger by two-thirds, with a three-quarters reduction in the proportion of under-weight children below five years, and an overall two-thirds fall in the number of persons suffering from hunger.
Regarding the attainment of universal primary education, Ms. Jones noted achievements in the thrust to ensure that children at the primary level will be able to complete a full course of schooling by 2015. She disclosed that, as at December 2007, net enrollment exceeded 90 percent, with gross enrollments reaching nearly 100 percent.
In the area of improved maternal health, the Project Consultant contended that Jamaica is on track to achieve universal access to reproductive health and ante-natal care, pointing out that thus far, there is only a 10 percent “unmet need for family planning.”
With regards to the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases, Ms. Jones said that Jamaica is on track to halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015, as well as facilitate universal access to treatment by 2010 – access has increased from five percent in 2000 to 60 percent in 2008- and halt and reverse the incidence of malaria.
Additionally, she informed that the country is also on track to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to potable water and basic sanitation. She said that as at December 2007, 92 percent of the population had access to safe drinking water, while 98.9 percent had access to basic sanitary facilities.
Targets and goals in which Ms. Jones said the country is either lagging far behind, or slipping in, include; the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women; halving of the child mortality rate for the under five age group; reduction of the maternal mortality line; and significant improvement in the living condition of persons residing in less than desirable environments.
The report identifies global recession, violence, and unattached youth, as areas which could affect Jamaica’s ability to achieve the overall MDGs. To this end, it recommends improvements in global partnerships for pursuit with international development partners, and international financial institutions, as well as targets and indicators for MDGs that would be more suited for countries classified middle income, such as Jamaica, and others in CARICOM.

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