Widening inequality in developing countries threatens to slow or even reverse progress in making life better for people, says Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
This is according to the third Goalkeepers Data Report co-authored by Bill and Melinda Gates and released on Tuesday in partnership with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.
The report tracks progress being made on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in addition to the impact of geographical, gender, income and wealth inequality between countries, states and local government areas.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation since 2017 produces the Goalkeepers Data Report every year, timing it to the annual gathering of world leaders in New York City for the U.N. General Assembly.
The report is designed to track progress in achieving the Global Goals, highlight examples of success, and inspire leaders around the world to accelerate their efforts.
“Even in the worst-off parts of low and low-middle income countries, more than 99 per cent of communities have seen an improvement in child mortality and schooling.
“Despite this progress, persistent gaps in opportunity mean that nearly half a billion people, that is about one in 15 people still do not have access to basic health and education.
“Gaps between countries, and local governments, boys and girls prove that the world’s investments in development aren’t reaching everyone.
“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,’’ the report showed.
The report showed that in Nigeria, -5 Child Mortality Rate, reduced from 109 per 1,000 birth in 2017 to 104 per 1,000 live birth in 2018 and Child Stunting reduced from 38.14 per cent in 2017 to 36.74 per cent in 2018.
Similarly, malaria death reduced from about 166 per 1,000 population in 2017 to 160.72 per 1,000 population and cases of tuberculosis reduced from 351.8 per 100,000 population to 344.2 in 2018.
Also, the cases of Neglected Tropical Diseases went down from 52,566 per 100,000 population in 2017 to 50,584 in 2018.
It, however, indicated that number of people living in poverty in Nigeria increased from 66.83 million in 2017 to 67.48 million in 2018.
On vaccinations in Nigeria, the report showed that Measles-Containing-Vaccine second dose (MCV2) was low at 39.27 per cent, Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) immunization coverage was 36.39 per cent.
The report also showed that the vaccine coverage for Pneumoccocal conjugate vaccines (PCV3) was at 35.67 per cent.
Meanwhile Bill Gates in a telephone interview with journalists, said that universal healthcare was strategic in achieving the SDGs.
He said that governments should prioritise primary health care to deliver a health system that works for the poorest.
Gates also suggested use of digital governance to ensure that governments are responsive to their least-empowered citizens
“If I had one wish for Nigeria, it would be that the quality and funding of the primary health care system would achieve the level that some lower income countries have attained.
“One challenge that Nigeria has is that the amount of money that the government raises domestically is quite small compared to other countries.
“A lot of countries at that level will be raising closer to 15 per cent of GDP and Nigeria is one of the lowest in the world down at about 6 per cent.
“It’s a huge challenge. If you want to fund infrastructure, health, and education, over time tax collection must go up. Domestic resources are going to have to go up quite a bit,’’ he said.
As in past years, Bill and Melinda Gates plans to host the third annual Goalkeepers events during the U.N. General Assembly, to celebrate progress and highlight the importance of closing the global inequality gap.