Leave no one behind in MDG achievement—PLCPD

With barely ten months left in 2015, time is running out for the Philippines to meaningfully achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

Speaking in a press conference organized by the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) on February 24, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) representative Mr. Michael Provido, Department of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Enrique Tayag, AAMBIS-Owa Party List representative Sharon Garin, and PLCPD executive director Mr. Romeo Dongeto discussed the country’s progress in achieving the MDGs and preparations for the post-2015 global development agenda.

Set in 2000, the MDGs are global development goals that 189 countries and 23 international organizations have agreed to achieve by 2015, namely: eliminate poverty and hunger; ensure universal primary education; improve child health; boost maternal health; halt the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; safeguard environmental sustainability; and build a global partnership for development.

According to reports from NEDA, there is high probability that the Philippines will meet its targets in ending food poverty, ensuring school participation of children, promoting women empowerment, decreasing infant and under-five mortality rate, lowering malaria morbidity, minimizing tuberculosis incidence, and ensuring access to safe water and sanitary toilet facilities.

On the other hand, the country has medium probability in solving income poverty and lowering the number of underweight children.

The areas where we lag behind are increasing cohort survival in school, closing the gender gap in education and politics, reducing maternal mortality, providing access to reproductive health services, and halting and reversing the spread of HIV.

Representative Sharon Garin lamented that while Congress has passed laws in the last 14 years that aim to contribute in achieving the country’s MDG targets, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

“Congress remains committed in crafting laws that will help us meet our national targets. The challenge, however, to meet our MDG targets is not the sole burden of the government. It is upon each and every one of us to contribute in our own little ways to this huge endeavor. Now more than ever, we, the key stakeholders in society—the government, the business sector, civil society, mass media—should join hands to drum up our efforts to achieve our MDGs,” she said.

“We have to make sure that our efforts address the different needs of different sectors in our society and more effort should be invested for those who need the extra hand. Inclusive growth means no sector will be left behind as our country moves to achieve our development targets,” she added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Romeo Dongeto, PLCPD executive director zoomed in on the MDG targets that the Philippines is obviously missing, including reducing maternal deaths (MDG5 target) and halting the spread of HIV (MDG6 target). According to the 2011 Family Health Survey, maternal mortality ratio in the Philippines is 221 deaths per 100,000, which increased from 162 in 2008 and is a far cry from the MDG5 target of only 52 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015. He also cited the “fast and furious” rate of increase of new cases of HIV in the country. The latest DOH HIV and AIDS Registry confirms 6,011 new HIV cases in the country in 2014. 5,758 or 96% of the 6,011 new cases were male, and the age group 20-29 year old had 58% of the cases.

“You know something is not working for our women, our mothers, and our young people when we have figures like these—increasing maternal deaths and increasing new HIV cases—at a time when everything else [is reported to be] improving everywhere else,” he laments.

Dongeto also echoed the sentiment of Congresswoman Garin. “We have to make sure that the progress we’ve been making is inclusive and does not exclude any sector in society. Be it in the area of health or gender equality, we should examine our progress and gaps across all regions, all age groups, all economic classes.”

PLCPD is an organization of lawmakers advocating legislation conducive to human development in the country. The organization has supported policy proposals supportive of the MDGs, including the historic Reproductive Health Law enacted in December 2012.

The press conference titled “From the Millennium Development Goals to the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Marami pang Dapat Gawin,” held on February 24 at Alex III in Tomas Morato, Quezon City was the first in a series of media activities being organized by PLCPD. The series is called “Closing gaps, expanding opportunities: a kapihan series on various issues of our time,” and aims to discuss various human development issues including the MDGs, women’s health and rights, HIV and AIDS, and children’s rights.