Nope, not the holiday season just yet, but Fall is indeed falling in NYC which means the United Nations General Assembly has convened. In an article from yesterday's Guardian titled "JK Confident Tanzania Will Achieve Most MDGs," the Tanzanian president downloaded his views on the state of the nation (TZ) and his thoughts for the future.
IMO, he's a little overly optimistic regarding the timeline of events, and a touch quick to say that the reason TZ won't make some of the other goals is due to donor lagging, but at least it seems things are headed in the right direction, particularly in the area of malaria prevention, care, and treatment. Check it out.
At the ongoing UN conference in New York on Tuesday, President Jakaya Kikwete said that despite delays experienced in
the disbursement of funds by development partners, Tanzania will achieve
five out of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
"Tanzania will achieve the second goal of universal primary education,
which notes that all children must be enrolled in schools, the fourth
that concerns the reduction of child mortality, the sixth of combating
HIV/AIDS and malaria, and part of the seventh goal which is about clean
water provision," he said.
He hastened to add, "The third goal that focuses on the promotion of gender
equality and the empowerment of women including their equal representation in
Parliament and an equal number of boys and girls in primary and secondary
schools and tertiary education can also achieved by 2015."
However, he said that due to slow progress by development partners to dish
out funds, the country's implementation reports indicate that Tanzania
is not likely to achieve at least three of the goals. "We have taken major steps and put more effort on this but it is
necessary that we increase the speed of implementing some of the
projects in the remaining two years."
"Generally, the MDG implementation report in Tanzania shows that it is
impossible to meet three goals which include the first that concerns the
eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, the fifth that talks about
improving maternal and child health and the seventh that speaks about
Organized by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World
Bank, the conference focuses on how to speed up the implementation of
Among those who attended the conference on Tuesday were UNDP Director
Hellen Clark, World Bank President Jim Kim, Bangladesh Prime Minister
Sheikh Hasina, Ghanaian President John Mahama, Costa Rican President
Laura Chinchilla Miranda, and Tonga Prime Minister Lord Siale'ataongo
MDGs have been implemented in poor countries since 2001 with the aim of transforming the economies into middle income nations.
Meanwhile, President Kikwete applauded the United Nations for its
efforts in the fight against malaria which have born fruits – the reduction in malaria
cases is expected to reach 25% in the world and 33%
in Africa in the coming ten years.
Still, despite the tremendous achievements recorded in Africa in general and
Tanzania in particular, malaria still claims at least 650,000 lives
every year in Tanzania.
"Our main challenge is how to make these achievements sustainable and
deal with the remaining goals....Malaria cases were reduced by 18% among under-five children by 2007, and between 2007 and 2012, the cases were reduced further by 50%. In Zanzibar, we are in a transitional period towards completely eradicating
the problem. I take this opportunity to thank the donors for their help which has taken us to where we are now."
Nonetheless, he warned that this is the third time the island has
reached the point of eradicating malaria but the scourge keeps recurring. Investigations have shown that it is still being transmitted from
mainland Tanzania to Zanzibar.
Worldwide, malaria continues to threatens at least 3.3 billion people and, on the African continent, at least
one child dies every minute.
President Kikwete is currently on an official visit to the United States and is
among the leaders attending the United Nations General Council.
Improvement in social attitudes towards Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) education is crucial in ensuring that young people become capable in applying it and enjoy a healthy and risk-free adult life .... Ms Mushi said that the right to education gives young people access to important information on reproductive health which can guard them against abuse and exploitation .... She said that when this right is denied, the results are lack of knowledge, lack of access to modern contraceptives, decreasing social status, increased sexual harassment of women, and an increase in HIV infections .... Girls in marginalized communities are most discriminated against, in their own homes as well as at educational institutions and health centers .... "The government should give priority to sexual and reproductive education as it is unsafe to have a community which is not conscious of those matters," she added.
The following day, another article ran with the headline "Society Owes Youths Reproductive Health and Rights Education." This time, there was no byline and I noted that the language was more candid and concentrated than the previous day:
Growing up can be very daunting for many
young people not so much in terms of physical growth, but more
that they are ignorant of what is happening to their bodies .... Without accurate and timely
information on sexual and reproductive health, many teenagers
may make decisions that cost them their wellbeing and ruin their futures .... They need to be comfortable with the fact that what they are
going through is normal and that they now have the responsibility of
protecting themselves from harmful sexual practices .... The question here is who is teaching our young people the facts of
growing up? Parents want the schools to do it but fail to agree on how
they should be taught and at what level. The schools claim
they are waiting for guidelines from the authorities concerned while
religious leaders insist on taking the moral high ground of 'thou shall
not preach such matters.' So while this circus carries on, more girls are getting pregnant and
are thrown out of the very same schools that do not want to take
responsibility of teaching them sexual and reproductive health! .... It is time stakeholders got their heads out of the sand and addressed
the problem squarely once and for all because as they run helter-skelter, it is the non-governmental organizations
that come to the rescue .... Young people have a right to access information on reproductive
health yet their society as a whole denies them that right as they refuse to take responsibility. Parents, schools, health
centers and even religious institutions need to wake up to the reality
that young people need the support now and not later. Later is too late.
Finally, more from Hilda on the 12th under the headline "Change of Attitude Crucial for Reproductive Health." (PS: While I know that most of this campaign for SRHR education is for the benefit of older schoolkids, I can't help but feeling like my little ones could also profit from some direct edification about sex and their bodies. If someone had told my little II girl in Msaranga that once you put your chupis on in the morning, you don't take them off until you reach home again, you don't let anyone touch you between your legs, and you don't talk to strange men who call out to you spontaneously from the shamba, maybe then she would still be an innocent .... in every way.)
"We have to improve awareness among youths by creating an enabling
environment for them and advocating SRHR friendly policies in the
education and health sectors," Ms. Mushi explained .... Speaking about family planning services, Ms. Mushi said that health
centers need skilled service providers so that they can provide proper
education and services to youth and women .... She further said that it is also important for sexual reproductive
health education to involve men instead of approaching women only as the
matter is crucial for both genders without exemptions.
So, all the way from the USA, I stand in solidarity with Ms. Mushi and Hilda Mhagama in roaring this out: FIX THIS PROBLEM, TZ! "LATER IS TOO LATE!"