Philippines to meet most of millennium development targets

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is confident that the Philippines would  likely meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on food poverty; gender equality in education; child mortality; malaria morbidity; detection, and treatment success and cure rates of tuberculosis cases; and access to sanitary toilet facilities.

“We need to double or triple our efforts to meet the targets on income poverty; nutrition; dietary energy requirement; access to safe drinking water; participation, cohort survival and completion rates in elementary education; maternal mortality; access to reproductive health services; and prevalence of HIV and AIDS,” said Socio-economic Planning Sec. and NEDA director-general Cayetano Paderanga, Jr.

With only 5 years to meet the MDGs, Paderanga stressed the need to accelerate progress in  three major areas — poverty, education and maternal health.

“Efforts have to be focused on boys to achieve gender equality in basic education, as well as on reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, which are are also needed.”

“To ensure that we move forward towards the achievement of the MDGs, we need to attract local and foreign investments to spur economic growth.  Physical infrastructure has to be improved, water and power have to be made available at competitive rates, and more transparent systems in doing business need to be established.”

While the annual population growth has been reduced from 2.3% to 2.04%, the growth rate remains high. There is a need to support informed familychoices for couples to freely determine the number and spacing of their children, said Paderanga.

He noted that the national figures mask considerable disparities across regions, provinces, municipalities and barangays.

In general, regions in Luzon tend to fare better than those in Visayas and Mindanao. Regions, such as ARMM, Region 8 in Eastern Visayas, and 4-B in MIMAROPA, are lagging behind in many indicators and would need greater attention to catch up with the other regions.

With decentralization and the way that the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) is allocated, Sec. Paderanga said the poorer municipalities tend to have lesser resources to address the needs of their constituents. Greater resources need to be channeled to poorer and underserved areas.

“We also note that economic growth is not enough to reduce poverty. Measures to ensure more equitable distribution of the benefits of growth have to be put in place. Many programs intended to benefit the poor suffer from significant leakage and exclusion.”

Improved governance, greater transparency and accountability will ensure that the available resources are directed towards priority areas and used more efficiently, said Paderanga.

Regular monitoring and evaluation of government programs will ensure that the expected outcomes are achieved, he added.