Tanzania records dismal score on MDGs four years to deadline Sunday, 30 January 2011 12:30 By Edward Qorro The Citizen reporter With four years to go, Tanzania still lags behind other East African countries towards the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), says the latest report by the Centre for Global Development (CGD). The US-based think-tank puts Tanzania at fourth position, having one out of eight points, only surpassing war-torn Burundi which has 0.5 points on the eight core MDG targets of ridding extreme poverty, hunger, improving education, ensuring gender parity, reducing child mortality and maternal mortality, HIV/Aids, and attaining sufficiency in water provision. Tanzania performed dismally in the reduction of maternal mortality by three quarters as compared to Kenya and Uganda. The minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Haji Mponda, admitted that he was aware of the report on MDGs and expressed the government's willingness to ensure that some of the targets are fully realised by 2015. "Our focus will be on reducing maternal and child deaths, by ensuring that we improve the health sector," he said. The minister highlighted the importance of ensuring that health services reach the grassroots, where adequate health services are unheard of. He however highlighted the achievements made by the government, specifically in 2007, when the rate of HIV/Aids prevalence dropped from seven per cent to five per cent and that of 2004 to 2005, when the number of maternal deaths went down from 98 to 51, out of every 1000 deaths. "Notwithstanding, we need to play our part in achieving these goals to meet the 2015 deadline," he added. The report shows that there had been a slight reduction of maternal mortality between 1990 and 2010, where there were 500 deaths out of every 100,000 births in the ten years. In Uganda, which leads the lot with 5 points, maternal mortality dropped to 200 deaths out of every 100,000 births in a decade. Majority of Tanzanians still thrive under $1 per day, with the number even rising by ten per cent, from 75 to 85 of those who barely survive. Kenya, with three points, has registered an achievement in this category, by reducing such deaths by 20 per cent. On halting and reversing the spread of HIV/Aids, the prevalence rate between the age of 15 and 49, shot up from five to six per cent, unlike in Rwanda, at three points, which managed to drop the rate from ten to six per cent in a period of ten years (1990-2010). The report comes exactly 10 years since the UN's adoption of the goals and twenty years since the recording of most baseline data surface. Despite an extraordinary public campaign to mobilize support for the MDGs, there has been surprisingly little effort to track, record, and disseminate information regarding progress toward the goals at the country level, argued the findings. Reacting to Tanzania's poor performance, the head of Twaweza, an information advocacy organization, Mr Rakesh Rajani, expressed concern that Tanzania still lagged behind its peer East African neighbours. He challenged the government to review each of the eight MDGs by involving stakeholders in health, poverty reduction, environment and other sectors that are related to the MDGs. "We should have independent evaluation bodies of these strategies, with stakeholders involved and not just the government officials," he noted. He added reports ought to be made available in the public domain, so that citizens know where the country is headed. Mr Rajani cited the recent dismal performance exhibited by Form Four students in last year's national examinations, as a failure of one of the government's strategies. For each target, the Index compares a country's actual performance over time with the rate of improvement needed to reach the target by 2015. The findings cited dramatic achievements by many poor countries, such as Honduras, Vietnam, Laos, Ethiopia, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Nepal, Cambodia, and Ghana. "These countries' performances suggest that they may achieve most of the highly ambitious MDGs", the report stated. It added: "Moreover, Africa accounts for many star performers. Interestingly, poor countries perform nearly on par with middle-income countries. And not surprisingly, the list of laggards largely consists of countries devastated by conflict, such as Afghanistan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Guinea-Bissau." (With Exception of kisiwa cha amani Tanzania) According to the MDG Progress Index Scorecard, 45 per cent of Tanzania's population is undernourished, compared to only 15 per cent of Ugandans.