Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mauritius will achieve MDGs but still has more problems to solve

The island country of Mauritius is on track to meet all of the Millennium Development Goals. However the achievement is another example of how the goals fall short in gauging public welfare. Some things such as health, unemployment and the environment still need improvement on the island.

From the IPS, writer Nasseem Ackburally gives us a summary of the achievements and the lingering problems for Mauritius.

"There are other real issues [that need to be addressed], like debt, non-communicable diseases, pollution, insecurity and violence, and so on, that have a negative impact on our society," says Vidya Charan, executive director of non-profit organisation Mauritius Family Planning and Welfare Association (MFPWA).

Charan is worried the government will use the positive MDG figures as an excuse to ignore other social problems, such as the decline of employment in the textile and manufacturing industries or environmental destruction caused by the ever-growing tourism and construction industries.

In terms of the MDG framework, Mauritius is certainly looking good. Less than one percent of the population of 1.2 million is deemed to be living in extreme poverty (MDG 1); economic growth is rapid and per capita income is above $4,000 (MDG 8).

Mauritius has already achieved MDG 2, universal access to primary education in the early 1990s. It has met MDG 4, reducing of the under-five child mortality rate by two thirds, and MDG 5 of improving maternal health – maternal deaths holding steady between 2007 and 2009.

HIV, malaria and tuberculosis prevalence (MDG 6) are very low in the country. The island has been declared a malaria risk-free area, while TB incidence decreased from 10.8 cases per 100,000 people in 1990 to 8.9 cases per 100,000 people in 2009. HIV prevalence is low at 0.15 percent in the highest risk group of 15 to 24-year-olds.

In terms of achieving environmental sustainability (MDG 7), Mauritius can show, among other factors, that it managed to decrease consumption of chlorofluorocarbons from 65 metric tonnse in 1993 to a negligible amount in 2004.

The island state offers citizens a range of free social services, including education from primary to tertiary levels, public health services, public transport for students and the elderly as well as subsidies for basic food items and gas.

The third MDG, gender equality, is a blot on country's MDG copybook. Although the government’s report claims it managed to eliminate gender disparities in education, women’s participation in the labour force and politics is still an issue.

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