Zim set to miss maternal health MDGs

HARARE - With about 940 days left to attain the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), achieving maternal health outlined in MDG 5 is a long shot for Zimbabwe.

The current maternal mortality rate in Zimbabwe stands at 960 deaths per 100 000 births, which, according to the UN resident coordinator Alain Noudehou, is 92 percent higher than other sub-Saharan African countries.

 “Why do we have women dying?” Noudehou asked during a presentation of the 2012 MDG progress report in Harare this week.

“Almost 40 percent of reasons why women die are not related to medical problems, but related to behaviour,” he said.

The MDGs were set up by the United Nations in 2000 in a bid to improve livelihoods.

Apart from the inaccessibility of clinics and hospitals especially to rural women, cultural and religious beliefs were named as major challenges in achieving the MDGs.

The government is also finding it difficult to eradicate poverty. Even though the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) figures are improving; this has not benefited poor Zimbabweans who are living below the total consumption poverty line.

The percentage of the population living below the total consumption poverty line escalated from 55 percent in 1995 to 72 percent in 2003 and 72,3 percent in 2011, according to the progress report.

“Even though the GDP was growing between March 2010 and March 2011, total formal sector employment declined from 1,327 million to 1,201 million,” the report says.

“Similarly, in the agriculture in the agricultural sector, the total number both informal employees declined by five percent from 2010 to 2011.”

The progress in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger largely depends on the country’s performance in agriculture, says the report.

Zimbabwe has however, made major strides in achieving universal access to primary education, though some children do not stay in school until they complete primary education.

The ministry of Education has also adopted a National Acceleration Action Plan to achieve universal primary education. - Bridget Mananavire

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