Bahamas progressing in reaching MDGs

NEW YORK, United States, September 26, 2008 – The Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has reported that the Caribbean nation is doing well in efforts to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG), revealing that it has not only achieved, but also surpassed, the goal regarding the elimination of poverty.

The eight UN MDGs for 2015 are the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, the achievement of universal primary education, the promotion of gender equality and empowerment for women, the reduction in child mortality, the improvement of maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.

Leaders attending yesterday’s High Level MDG session stressed the urgency of action, particularly with regard to poverty, healthcare and education across the globe, and the Bahamian leader said that his country was making significant progress in these areas.

“The Bahamas is able to ensure that every child from age five is able to attend a school in the Bahamas. So the Bahamas meets that yardstick. The Bahamas meets the yardstick of females being able to go to school [and having] equal access to education,” the Prime Minister noted. “We meet the yardstick of female participation on a gender equality question.” 

“There is only one item on the agenda that we do not meet and that is the constitutional requirement that females are able to transfer their nationality to their children if they are married to foreign men.”

Referring to other targets within the MDGs, Prime Minister Ingraham said the Bahamas is doing well in providing potable water throughout the country, in the treatment of HIV/AIDS and in the management of infant and maternal mortality rates.

He said that the maternal mortality rate stands between one and four in every 1,000 births, adding that while the infant mortality rate is currently in the mid-teens, it can be lowered.

“We hope to get it back to where it used to be when I was last in office,” he said. “The focus will now be on perinatal care.”

In the Bahamas, prenatal and postnatal care is free, and expectant mothers with high-risk pregnancies throughout the islands that make up the Bahamas are provided support to go to New Providence or Grand Bahama to receive care at the major government hospital on those islands.

With regard to poverty, the Bahamian leader pointed to the challenge of determining how the state can best provide support to persons who fall below the poverty line so that children do not neglect to go to school because of a lack of uniforms, shoes or meals during the day. 

An MDG target not yet met by the Bahamas is the collection of statistical data to support the work being in the Bahamas and the retrieval of that data, but Mr Ingraham said the country is continuing to work on addressing this challenge.

The Prime Minister participated in a MDG roundtable session on education and healthcare yesterday, as well as the Clinton Global Initiative’s (CGI) working session on education and global health.

He will deliver the Bahamas’ statement to the United Nations General Assembly today.