Vol. 5 Num 266 Fri. February 25, 2005  

Bangladesh performs impressively in attaining MD goals: WB study

Bangladesh's performance on all the millennium development indicators has been impressive and it has achieved the goals relating to elimination of gender disparity in schooling opportunities.

But attaining the goals with respect to child malnutrition and primary school enrolment and completion would be challenging, according to a World Bank study on attaining millennium development goals (MDG) in Bangladesh.

This was revealed at a seminar organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) at the Cirdap auditorium in the city yesterday.

CPD Chairman Prof Rehman Sobhan chaired the seminar while Dr Wahiduddin Mahmud, State Minister for Health Mizanur Rahman Sinha, former minister ASHK Sadique, Prof Masum, Dr Zafarullah, Dr Quazi Meshbahuddin Ahmed and Dr Atique Rahman took part in the discussion.

In the case of reducing gender disparity, Bangladesh has done a better job than India and Pakistan, the WB study said.

"Other than Sri Lanka, Bangladesh is the only country in South Asia to achieve parity in male and female enrolment not only at the primary level but also at the secondary level."

This is an impressive achievement for a country that is one of the poorest in the world with per capita gross national income of only $1,770 (in PPP term), the report said.

"Attainment of two other MD goals -- reduction of consumption poverty and under five mortality -- is also feasible," the report added.

Professor Anil B Deolaliker, director of the public policy initiative at the University of California, conducted the study.

In the case of child malnutrition, the projection suggests that Bangladesh might come very close to MD goal of having no more than 34 per cent of its children under weight. However, it will be very challenging for the country to attain the rate of net primary enrolment and primary completion exceeding 83 per cent to 86 per cent by 2015, the report observed.

Wahiduddin Mahmud observed that enormous changes took place in the social sectors of the country because of infrastructure development. He pointed out that the per capita expenditure in social sector of Bangladesh is lower than that of India.

He stressed the need for understanding the reasons behind the changes in the public mindset, which could also help in taking steps regarding violence against women and the rise in religious fundamentalism.

Mizanur Rahman Sinha said the country is heading towards achieving all the goals set up by the United Nations (UN). He contradicted the views that 75 per cent of the doctors in the government hospitals remain absent. He, however, admitted that some doctors may remain absent but the percentage is not that high.

Dr. Zafarullah Chowdhury underscored the need to decentralise the administration to reach the benefits to the poorest. He also called on the government to use the buildings constructed for health care services for the villagers.

Presenting a keynote paper, Dr Quazi Meshbahuddin Ahmed, member of the planning commission, said Bangladesh is on track in respect of most social millennium goals.

He, however, said that progress was less than satisfactory in the cases of income poverty, adult literacy, rate of immunisation and maternal mortality.

Prof Wahiduddin Mahmud speaks at a dialogue on 'Attaining MDG Targets in Bangladesh: Progress and the remaining challenges' at Cirdap auditorium in the city yesterday. On his right are State Minister for Health and Family Welfare Mizanur Rahman Sinha, CPD Chairman Prof Rehman Sobhan and former minister AHSK Sadek. PHOTO: STAR