Millenium Development Goals
A glance at the MDGs in the Dominican Republic.
The country is a signatory of the “Millennium Summit Declaration” that took place in the year 2000 and during which the challenge of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for the year 2015 was taken on.
The first challenge listed in the MDGs, to “Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger”, requires decisive political will for its fulfilment, because to achieve it it is essential to promote greater and better redistribution of the wealth generated by the economic growth the country has enjoyed over the last decade. About 42.2% of the Dominican population lives in poverty, while 8% lives in extreme poverty. During the previous decade, the former figure was at 63.4% and the latter stood at 12.8% (1)
We have to admit that there has been progress, but a significant increase in social investment is still needed. The Dominican Republic is ranked third lowest in Latin America in terms of social spending. (See graph). This means that we are among the countries that spend the least on health, education, drinking water provision, housing, sports and culture, sanitation, social security and welfare.
It has to be understood that economic and social factors are closely linked, and that this has to be taken into account when the country’s budget is being formulated and executed.
The current Government priorities have focussed on the maintenance of the country’s macro-economic stability, which has an impact on the potential for increasing social investment as a way of redistributing wealth, reducing poverty, and stimulating sustainable human development.
The goal of “Ensuring Universal Primary Education” appears to be achievable by the country in a relatively short time period. The National Household Survey (ENHOGAR), conducted in 2006 by the National Statistics Office (ONE), with technical and financial support from UNICEF, found that 92% of children go to primary school and that 89% of these reach 5th grade.
As far as goal of “Gender Equity" is concerned, the same source (2) indicates that 1.2 girls attend primary school for every boy. This situation seems to have come about not because of an increase in primary school enrolment levels for girls, which is evident, and whose net attendance rate is 93.3%; but is more to do with the decline in male attendance at primary level, which stands at 91%. This is a challenge that needs to be overcome in the short term.
Barely 50% of the female population between the ages of 14 and 17 attend secondary school, while the proportion of males is just 37%. The Dominican Government continues to make efforts aimed at increasing investment in education, strengthening programmes in the sector at national level, and ensuring improved coverage and quality of services.
Another apparently achievable objective is “reducing infant mortality”. The above-mentioned ENHOGAR survey established that for children under 5 years of age, the Mortality Rate is 35 for every one thousand live births, while the Infant Mortality Rate is 30 for every thousand live births. In 2000 the figures were 47 and 38 (per thousand live births) respectively. This tells us that there has been a reduction of almost one quarter in just five years.
An understandable area of concern is still the high neo-natal mortality rate, at 20 per thousand live births, rising to 25 in rural areas. These figures lead us to conclude that there is a need to evaluate, on one hand, the quality of health care services, and on the other hand, the level of investment in these services, which is still low (1.6% of GDP) (3), as well as its efficiency.
The Maternal Mortality rate is still high. The ENHOGAR 2006 survey showed that 95% of pregnant women receive pre-natal care, and that 96% of births are within a health care facility, 97% of these in the presence of qualified personnel. However, it is estimated that the Maternal Mortality rate is 178 for each 100,000 live births (4), which is very high, considering the institutional coverage of births and health care. The Ministry of Health, in partnership with several actors, continues its efforts towards reducing this figure and with this in mind is implementing the “National Maternal Mortality Rate Reduction Plan” in all the country’s hospitals, for which more resources and follow-up will be required.
For the country to fulfil the MDGs decisive political will is needed in order to stimulate an increase in social investment and, at the same time, a process of social monitoring, with broad-based civil society participation, to advocate for the efficiency and effectiveness of this investment.
1. Data from the Sub-Ministry of Planning (formerly ONAPLAN)
2. ENHOGAR 2006
3. Speech by Health Minister, Dr. Bautista Rojas Gómez, at the International Seminar on Social Security. Santo Domingo, National District. 2007.
4. Demographic and Health Survey (ENDESA) estimates for the period 1992-2002
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