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1000 Days To Go: MDGs Office Listed Gains, Challenges

By Israel Goodway
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Nigeria has recorded remarkable successes in the implementation of Millennium Development Goals, MDGs in the past few years, though the country could have done better in some areas, Dr Precious Gbeneol, Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs said yesterday at a media briefing organised to mark 1000 days to the end of MDGs Framework in Abuja.

The presidential aide also listed the various measures her office has embarked upon in cooperation with states and local governments to accelerate progress in areas lacking behind in the development agenda. Dr. Gbeneol told journalists that the country has especially recorded significant progress in the drive to attain the health MDGs.

“For instance, there has been a reduction from the 2008 NDHS figure for the under five mortality rate of 157 deaths per 1,000 live births, to 94 deaths. This trend is similar for infant mortality rate”, said Gbeneol who however added that the infant mortality rate of 61 per 1,000 live births needs to reduce by 50 per cent in order to meet the 2015 target.

This, according to her is achievable with increasing investment and ongoing interventions across the health MDGs, this Goal can be achieved.

The SSAP-MDGs also said Nigeria has to record progress in its bid to reduce maternal mortality with the country's maternal mortality rate figure now at 350 down from 1000 per 100,000 live births in 1990 and 545 in 2008. She however noted that Nigeria is still 28.6 per cent away from the 2015 target. Dr. Gbeneol attributed the progress that has been recorded in the areas of Health MDGs to introduction of innovative initiatives like the Midwife Services Scheme which has resulted in an increase in number of skilled health personnel attending births.

“In 2008, deliveries that had skilled birth attendance was 38.9 per cent while it rose to 53.6 per cent in 2012”, the Presidential aide said.

Other achievements in the area of Health MDGs as enumerated by Dr. Gbeneol include continuous fall in HIV prevalence rate from as high as 5.8 to 4.1 in 2012 and the increase in the proportion of under-5 children sleeping under Insecticide Treated Nets from 2.2 per cent in 2003 to 34.6 per cent in 2012 as confirmed by MDGs Survey conducted last year.

Dr. Gbeneol said her office, in partnership with key players is introducing a number of initiatives to deal with the chronic shortage of skilled health care workers and inputs, particularly in rural locations to further improve Nigeria performance in the health MDGs.

Also, on the education MDGs, Dr. Gbeneol said baseline data indicated that net attendance levels for basic schooling have risen markedly when compared with baseline data while the gender parity targets at primary and secondary education levels have also been achieved.

She however noted that for the sustenance of achievements in the area of education, there must be continuous incentives to keep female children in school particularly in the Northern part of the country while the MDGs office has also continue to partner with other stakeholders to find ways of keeping children in classrooms in the face of ongoing security challenges in that part of the country.

In addition, the presidential aide said a number of projects targeted at MDGs have been executed and delivered to communities across Nigeria since the introduction of Conditional Grants Scheme (CGS) through which states and local governments jointly fund projects in 2007.

Dr. Gbeneol said in 2011 alone, CGS recorded a number successes including the construction, renovation and equipping of 1,646 health facilities, construction of 4,478 water facilities, conditional cash transfers to 39,567 households, the payment of salaries of 2,260 new village health workers, the building and renovation of 742 classroom blocks, and the procurement of 1,214,271 textbooks, amongst other activities.

The Presidential aide also noted that preliminary investigations indicated that States and local governments have increased their spending on MDGs.