Prospectus of MDGs-2015 in Bangladesh

Millennium Development Goals-2015

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals are eight goals that all 191 UN member states have agreed to try to achieve by the year 2015. The United Nations Millennium Declaration, signed in September 2000, commits world leaders to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination against women. The MDGs are derived from this Declaration, and all have specific targets and indicators.

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Prospectus of MDGs in Bangladesh

Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

Bangladesh has made commendable progress in the eradication of poverty and hunger. It has sustained a GDP growth rate of 6 percent or above in recent years that has played a positive role in eradicating poverty. The robust growth has been accompanied by corresponding improvements in several social indicators, such as increased life expectancy and lower fertility rate despite having one of the world's highest population densities. This impressive performance results from the persuasion of a pro-poor and inclusive growth strategy. Inclusive growth has resulted in remarkable poverty reduction from 56.7 percent in 1991-92 to 31.5 percent in 2010; the rate of reduction being faster in the present decade than the earlier ones. The latest HIES 2010 data show that the incidence of poverty has declined on an average 1.74 percentage points in Bangladesh during 2000 to 2010 against the MDG target of 1.20 percentage points. The poverty headcount ratio for 2015 is estimated to be 24.8 percent. Bangladesh has already met one of the indicators of target-1 by bringing down the poverty gap ratio to 6.5 against the 2015 target of 8.0. The estimated figures suggest that the MDG target of halving the population living below the poverty line (from 56.7 percent to 29.0 percent) has been achieved well ahead i.e. by 2012. Unemployment, as well as underemployment, is still persistent, especially among young people between 15 to 24 years of age. This age group comprises nearly 8.5 percent of the country's total population and 22 percent of the total labour force.

Moreover, while Bangladesh has demonstrated its capacity for achieving the goal of poverty reduction within the target timeframe, attaining food security and nutritional wellbeing for a populous country like Bangladesh still remains as a challenge. The challenges with regard to reducing income inequality and the low economic participation of women also remain a matter of concern.

Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

Significant progress has been made in increasing equitable access to education (NER: 97.7 percent), reduction of dropouts, improving in completion of the cycle, and implementing a number of quality enhancement measures in primary education. Bangladesh has already achieved gender parity in primary and secondary enrolment. Initiatives have been taken to introduce pre-school education to prepare the children for formal schooling. The government is in the process of implementing a comprehensive National Education Policy (2010) to achieve its objectives. The free distribution of all books to all the students up to class nine, the introduction of Primary Education Completion (PEC) and Junior School Completion (JSC) examinations holding examinations timely and providing results in stipulated times, the introduction of modern technology for learning are some of the important measures taken by the Government to improve the quality of education in the country.

The Constitution of Bangladesh has provisions for free and compulsory primary education. The Government nationalized and took over 36,165 primary schools in 1973 and regularized it under the Primary Education (Taking Over) Act of 1974, and declared 157,724 primary school teachers as government employees. Primary education is free and made compulsory under the Primary Education (Compulsory) Act 1990. Bangladesh is a signatory to the World Declaration on Education for All (EFA) held at Jomtien, Thailand in March 1990. Bangladesh is also a signatory to the Summit of 9 high Population Countries held on 16 December 1993 in New Delhi. The country has formulated a National Plan of Action I and II to realize the goals of Education for All.

The country has also prepared a Non-formal Education Policy. After four decades, in January 2013, in a landmark announcement, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh declared the nationalisation of all non-government primary schools in the country. With a view to spreading and augmenting the quality of education, the government has nationalized 26,193 primary schools from January 2013 and jobs of 1 lakh 4 thousand 776 teachers have been nationalized. The challenges under MDG-2 include attaining the targets of primary education completion rate and the adult literacy rate. A large part of physically and mentally retarded children remains out of the schooling system. Improvement of the quality of education is also a challenge at the primary and higher secondary levels that need to be taken care of on a priority basis.

Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

Bangladesh has already achieved the targets of gender parity in primary and secondary education at the national level. This positive development has occurred due to some specific public interventions focusing on girl students, such as stipends and exemption of tuition fees for girls in rural areas, and the stipend scheme for girls at the secondary level. The Education Assistance Trust Act, 2012 has been passed and the Education Assistance Trust established to benefit the underprivileged meritorious students. For facilitating female education and women empowerment, the government has introduced the first-ever Education Trust Fund for students of graduate or equivalent level and allocated Tk. 1,000 crore. From the interest of the fund, the government would distribute Taka 75.15 crore among 1.33 lakh female students. Benevolent persons and education protagonists have been urged to donate money to this fund and their donation would enjoy a tax rebate. Bangladesh has made significant progress in promoting the objectives of ensuring gender equality and empowerment of women.

There has been a steady improvement in the social and political empowerment scenario of women in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh Government is committed to attaining the objective of CEDAW, Beijing Platform for Action and MDGs in conformity with the fundamental rights enshrined in the Bangladesh Constitution and has adopted the National Policy for Women's Development (2011) and a series of programs for ensuring sustainable development of women. There has been an increase in the number of women parliamentarians elected (20 percent of total seats) in the last national election. However, wage employment for women in Bangladesh is still low. Only one woman out of every five is engaged in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector.

Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality

Bangladesh is on track to meeting the target of this goal measured in three different indicators under five mortality rate, infant mortality rate and immunization against measles. The under-five mortality rate was 151 per 1000 live birth in 1990 which has come down to 41 per 1000 live birth in 2013 and thereby achieving the MDG target before the stipulated time. Likewise, the infant mortality rate was 94 per 1000 live birth in 1990 which has reduced to 32 per 1000 live birth in 2013. Bangladesh is on the verge of achieving the target. The successful programs for immunization, control of diarrhoeal diseases and Vitamin-A supplementation are considered to be the most significant contributors to the decline in child and infant deaths; a large part of it can be attributed to the conscious investment by Government as well as steady economic and social development. Bangladesh is a global leader in developing low-cost interventions such as the use of zinc in the treatment of childhood diarrhoea, oral rehydration solution, delivery kits, tetanus vaccinations for pregnant women, and iodized salt. These interventions have been rolled out locally, scaled up and even used in other developing countries. Bangladesh's strong emphasis on childhood immunization has resulted in almost universal access.

Despite these improvements, there are challenges ahead. While the mortality rates have improved, major inequalities among the population segments still need to be addressed. Childhood injuries, especially drowning, have emerged as a considerable public health problem responsible for a full quarter of the deaths among children 1-4 years of age.

Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health

The Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) in Bangladesh in 1990/91 was 574 per 100,000 live birth, which was one of the highest in the world. According to Bangladesh Maternal Mortality Survey (BMMS), maternal mortality declined from 322 in 2001 to 194 in 2010, a 40 percent decline in nine years. The average rate of decline from the base year has been about 3.3 percent per year, compared with the average annual rate of reduction of 3.0 percent required for achieving the MDG in 2015. The BMMS 2001 and 2010 show that overall mortality among women of reproductive ages has consistently declined during these nine years. The Maternal Mortality Estimation Inter-agency Group (MMEIG), however, found the MMR as 170 per 100,000 live births in 2013. The overall proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel increased by more than eight-fold in the last two decades, from 5.0 percent in 1991 to 42.1 percent in 2014. In the same duration, the antenatal care coverage (at least one visit) has increased 51 percentage points; 27.5 percent in 1993-94 to 78.6 percent in 2014.

The government has framed the National Health Policy, of 2011' with a view to revamping the health sector and the 'National Population Policy 2012' has also been finalized. Moreover, in order to strengthen primary healthcare facilities, the government has launched 12,979 community clinics to reach out to the grassroots level population. The innovative idea to use Information and Communication Technology for the progress of the health of women and children has already been acclaimed by the world community. The GO-NGO collaboration has played a significant role in the health sector development in Bangladesh.

The Government views NGOs as a way of extending their reach, particularly in the implementation of national strategies and policies. NGOs have developed strong capacity and innovative delivery models that have prompted a two-way learning exchange between government and non-governmental entities. The Sector Wide Approach (SWAp) (1998) has reduced duplication and financial waste in the health sector and has simplified the process of programme development and implementation.

Moreover, non-health activities like poverty reduction initiatives have played an important factor in Bangladesh's progress. Participation in microcredit programmes has been connected to better child survival and the expansion of electricity coverage, and road infrastructure has assisted the rollout of immunization programmes to rural areas. An increase in net primary education enrolment has resulted in improved literacy rates. The economic and social position of women has gradually improved in line with education, income-generating activities, access to microfinance and employment in the garment industry. Bangladesh's disaster preparedness has shown the world that it has the capacity to plan, coordinate and implement crisis responses. This demonstrates the improving governance structures across public sectors. However, challenges remain in the area of access to reproductive health.

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases

Bangladesh has performed well in halting communicable diseases under this goal. Available data show that the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Bangladesh currently is less than 0.1 percent and thus is still below an epidemic level. According to National AIDS/STD Programmes (NASP), the condom use rate at the last high-risk sex was 43.33 percent in 2013. According to National AIDS/STD Programmes (NASP), the proportion of the population aged 15-24 years with comprehensive correct knowledge of HIV/AIDS is 17.70 percent in 2013. There was a significant improvement in the reduction of malarial deaths in the country over the years.

The prevalence of malaria per 100,000 population was 776.9 in 2008, which has come down to 433.9 in 2014. The MIS data of the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) show that the proportion of children under 5 sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets in 13 high-risk malaria districts was 81 percent in 2008 which has increased to 92.2 percent in 2014. The proportion of children under-5 with fever who are treated with appropriate anti-malarial drugs was 60 percent in 2008, which was recorded at 99.92 percent in 2014 and the target is to achieve 90 percent in 2015 has already been achieved. The prevalence of TB per 100,000 population was 501 in 1990, which has reduced to 402 in 2014 against the target of 250 in 2015. The death rate associated with TB was 61 per 100,000 population in 1990, which has come down to 51 in 2014. The overall TB case notification rate was 53 per 100,000 population in 2014. The NTP adopted the DOTS strategy and started its field implementation in November 1993. The programme has been maintaining over 90 percent treatment success rate since 2006 and has successfully treated 92 percent of the new smear-positive cases registered in 2014.

Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

At present, there is only 13.40 percent of land in Bangladesh has tree cover with a density of 30 percent and above. The area having tree cover is much lower than the target set for 2015. Since 1991, there has been a steady increase in CO2 emissions in Bangladesh because of increasing development interventions and activities. In 2005, the emission was 0.23 tons per capita. At present the proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected is 1.81 percent and 1.34 percent respectively which is much less than the target of 5 percent. Data show that without considering the issue of arsenic contamination, 97.9 percent of the population of Bangladesh is using improved/safe drinking water; 55.9 percent of the population is using improved sanitation in 2012-13. However, access to safe water for all is a challenge, as arsenic and salinity intrusion as a consequence of climate change fallout will exacerbate access to safe water, especially for the poor.

Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

During the last twenty-four years, Bangladesh, on average, received US$ 1.74 billion ODA per year. The disbursed ODA as a proportion of Bangladesh's GDP has declined from 5.69 percent in FY 90-91 to 1.78 percent in FY 13-14, implying a yearly average of 2.84 percent. During the same period, per capita, ODA disbursement saw fluctuating figures ranging from US$ 19.79 to US$ 7.60. From FY 90-91 to FY13-14, on average, each year Bangladesh received US$ 0.64 billion as grants and US$ 1.1 billion as loans. In absolute terms, the net ODA received by Bangladesh has shown a rising trend over the last seven years notwithstanding it shows yearly fluctuations. Out of 34-member states of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), nine countries provided US$0.75 billion ODA to Bangladesh in 2013-14. The amount was about 24.25 percent of the total ODA received by Bangladesh in that particular year. The MDGs sectors like education, health, social welfare, labour, public administration and social infrastructure together with agriculture and rural development constituted around 50.82 percent of the total ODA outlay received during 1990-91 to 2013- 14.

The Government of Bangladesh has taken up plans to ensure universal access through the harmonious development of a telecommunication networks and building a well-developed, strong and reliable telecommunication infrastructure for effective implementation of its ICT policy and ultimately for complementing the 'Vision 2021' of the government. Cellular subscribers per 100 population up to June 2015 is 79.76 which was zero in 1990. The internet users per 100 population up to June 2015 is 30.39, which was 0.15 in 2005.

As MDGs are considered as an unfinished, accelerated development cooperation in terms of providing more grants, loans and transfer of technologies and are also considered a must to attain the upcoming targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The MDG-F contributed directly and indirectly to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, with the main driver behind its work being the eradication of extreme poverty. The Fund adopted an inclusive and comprehensive approach to the MDGs, embracing the discourse on climate change as it relates to poverty while incorporating other programme areas that are recognized as prerequisites and/or mechanisms for MDG achievement. Our approach was guided by the Millennium Declaration and its emphasis on development as a right, with targeted attention directed towards traditionally marginalized groups such as ethnic minorities, indigenous groups and women.

Bangladesh has made outstanding progress in MDGs achievement. She has already met several targets of the MDGs like reducing headcount poverty and poverty gap ratio, reducing the prevalence of underweight children, attaining gender parity at primary and secondary education, under-five mortality rate reduction, containing HIV infection with access to antiretroviral drugs, children under five sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets, the cure rate of TB under DOTS and others. In addition, Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in, increasing enrolment at primary schools, lowering the infant mortality rate and maternal mortality ratio, improving immunization coverage and reducing the incidence of communicable diseases. On the other hand, areas in need of greater attention are hunger-poverty reduction and employment generation, increases in primary school completion and adult literacy rates, ensuring quality education at all levels, creation of decent wage employment for women, increase in the presence of skilled health professionals at delivery, increase incorrect and comprehensive knowledge on HIV/AIDS, increase in forest coverage, and coverage of Information and Communication Technology.

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