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Nigeria, Niger, Chad, others not expected to meet health, education SDG targets ─Report

A NEW report that tracks progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has classified Nigeria among countries not expected to meet the health and education targets, the major factors for human capital and economy developments.

The goalkeeper’s report  launched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Tuesday, aimed to identify what was working and where countries were falling short in achieving the global goals by 2030.

The report featured new data showing that global inequality remains a major barrier to achieving the SDGs by 2030.

In the report, many African countries were projected to not achieving the education and health global targets by 2030. “Even though life is better, it is still bad,” the report said.

Some of the countries listed included Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, Niger, Burkina Faso, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Somalia, Burundi, Cote’diovoire and Guinea Bissau.

Though it stated health and education are improving in every country, very few developing countries, it noted were projected to meet the SDGs goals.

Gaps between countries, local government areas, boys and girls prove that the world’s investments in development were not reaching everyone, the report read.

“Where you’re born is still the biggest predictor of your future, and no matter where you’re born, life is harder if you’re a girl.

“Nearly two-thirds of the children in low- and low-middle income countries live in districts that, at their current rate of progress, won’t reach the SDG target for child mortality by 2030,” report partly read.

To show inequality in Nigeria, it juxtaposed two Local Government Areas in the country – Ado-Ekiti in Ekiti State and Garki in Jigawa State.

“The average person in Ado-Ekiti, in Ekiti State, has more than 12 years of education, whereas the average person in Garki, in Jigawa State, has five.”

According to a chart that noted the child-mortality rate and mean years of schooling in 2017 across 774 Local Government Areas in the country, most Northern local governments took the bottom area of the chart. That is, access to health and education in the areas were still poor.

Among the local governments listed at the bottom included Garki, Ringim, Buji in Jigawa State; Gabasawa, Tundunwada, Ajingi in Kano State.

The report stated that investments in human capital today help people increase their incomes tomorrow. “But without human capital—that is, for those who are unhealthy and uneducated—it is virtually impossible to escape poverty.”

On September 25, 2015, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, 193 world leaders, including Nigeria committed to the 17 SDGs which were a series of ambitious objectives and targets to achieve by 2030.

Some of the targets to achieve by 2030 on health include ending preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births.

The latest UNICEF data estimated that in every 1000 live births, 100 of them will not reach age five in Nigeria.

Other targets on health include:

  • end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases.
  • strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol.
  • achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.

Nigeria is facing a high burden of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2019,  the country has the highest burden of malaria globally. It had claimed the second position among countries with a high prevalence of tuberculosis.

And the latest UNAIDS statistics estimated that Nigeria together with Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire
account for close to 60 per cent of new HIV infections and 54 per cent of AIDS-related deaths every year.

Measles is also a vaccine-preventable disease affecting the country. Nigeria was ranked the fourth among countries with confirmed cases of measles in 2019 in the world.

And on education, some of the SDGs targets include to:

  • ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes.
  • ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education.
  • ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university.
  • substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.

To develop low and low-middle income countries, including Nigeria, the report urged the government to invest in primary health care where people would receive quality healthcare services near where they live and work.

“Governments should prioritize primary health care to deliver a health system that works for the poorest, digital governance to ensure that governments are responsive to their least-empowered citizens, and more support for farmers to help them adapt to climate change’s worst effects,” wrote Bill and Melinda Gates if countries were to address persistent inequality.

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