Neda: PH ranks high in Asean on human dev’t, MDGs

Published by rudy Date posted on March 26, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines ranks “relatively higher” in terms of human development compared with other Asean member-countries and is making progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

Neda said on Monday the 2013 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Program ranked the Philippines 114 among 187 countries, with a medium Human Development Index (HDI) at 0.654 as of 2012.

“Within the Asean region, the Philippines’ HDI is higher than Indonesia (0.629), Vietnam (0.617), Cambodia (0.543), Lao PDR (0.543), and Myanmar (0.498), though lower than Thailand (0.690) and Malaysia (0.769),” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said. The country’s chief economist is also director-general at Neda.

However, the pace of improvement in HDI over the past three decades is much slower in the Philippines than in most major East Asian neighbors, particularly Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

HDI is a composite index of health (i.e., life expectancy), education (i.e., mean years of schooling), and income (i.e., gross national income (GNI) per capita).

The Philippines has also achieved three of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ahead of the 2015 target, Balisacan said.

“We are an early achiever in the attainment of the MDGs in the areas of gender equality, disease control, and environmental sustainability,” he said.

He said this citing the “2012 MDGs Regional Report: Where We Stand,” which showed that the Philippines has attained three of the eight goals and in nine out of the 22 indicators of the MDGs way before the 2015 target.

Overall, the Philippines fared better in comparison with its Southeast Asian neighbors such as Timor Leste, Cambodia and Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic in terms of progress towards attaining the MDGs.

“The 2013 Human Development Report and the 2012 MDGs Regional Report supports the claim that our country is not Asia’s worst performer in those areas,” Balisacan said.

On the MDG on women empowerment, the Philippines has succeeded in realizing gender equality in primary, secondary, and tertiary education, he said.

The country has been successful in reducing the prevalence of malaria and tuberculosis, but reversing or halting the spread of HIV/AIDS has remained a challenge, Balisacan said. The MDG target for tuberculosis incidence has already been met while the target on tuberculosis prevalence has come within reach, he said.

The Philippines is also reported to have achieved the targets for its indicators on forest cover, protected areas, carbon-dioxide emissions and consumption of ozone-depleting substances which include chloro-flouro carbons or CFCs.

“While the report cited the Philippines as lagging on other MDGs, official statistics show that we are likely to meet the targets on food poverty, child mortality, and access to safe drinking water and sanitary toilet facilities by 2015,” Balisacan said.

The National Statistical Coordination Board’s 2009 Family Income and Expenditure Survey showed that extreme poverty was down to 10.8 percent from 16.5 percent in 1991, close to the 2015 target of 8.25 percent. The official figure for 2012 will be known later this year.

Also, under-five mortality dropped to 30 deaths per 1,000 lives in 2011 from 80 in 1990. The country has already surpassed the target on access to sanitary toilet facilities as percentage of families with access to sanitary toilet facilities already reached 92.5 percent as of end-2010, surpassing the 2015 target of 83.8 percent.

Likewise, the percentage of Filipinos with access to safe water supply also improved to 84.8 percent in 2010 from 73 percent in 1991 close to the 86.5 MDG target.

“Nevertheless, the government will continue to double its efforts in ensuring human development in the country through programs such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the National Health Insurance Program (Philhealth), and other pro-poor initiatives of the Aquino Administration,” Balisacan said. –Riza T. Olchondra, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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