United Nations —President Goodluck Jonathan said Nigeria is set to meet  some of  the targets of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, by 2015.

He said the goal on reduction of child mortality in particular would be achieved.
In an address delivered at the UN high-level summit on MDGs on Monday, Jonathan said the country still faced significant challenges in the area of environment, global partnership for development and maternal mortality.

Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, the Minister of  Health, delivered the president’s address.
He said in spite of  the strong determination by the country to implement the eight MDGs created in 2000, progress to date had been mixed.

“Nigeria is reasonably on course to achieve the target of MDGs on reducing   child mortality with a fall from 100 per 1,000 live births between 2003 and 2008.

“However, the issue of maternal health has been most intractable and challenging, given that for most of the early years of the MDGs, Nigeria had one of the biggest maternal mortality ratios in the world, hovering at 800 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births,” he said.

Jonathan said recent data from the country suggest that investments had recorded appreciable progress with a drop in the maternal mortality ratio of  545 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

On HIV/AIDS, he said Nigeria recorded a fall in the prevalence rate from 5.8 per cent in 2001 to 4.2 per cent in 2008. He added that treatment for HIV/AIDS patients doubled from 16.7 per cent in 2007 to 34.9 per cent in 2008.

He said progress on environmental sustainability had been seriously threatened in Nigeria, adding that between 2000 and 2010,  the area covered by  forest shrank by one-third from 14.4 per cent to 9.9 per cent.

The Special Adviser to the President on MDGs, Hajiya Amina Az_Zubair,  told reporters at the UN that the country had undertaken urgent positive steps aimed at  raising the proportion of  births attended by skilled health workers.

She said under the Midwifery Services Scheme, some 2,488 midwives had been deployed across the country to further accelerate progress in improving maternal health.

The presidential aide said Nigeria had made progress in the reduction of  polio by 99 per cent between 2009 and 2010, declaring   that “the eradication of  the disease is now clearly in sight.”

Eight goals were agreed on by world leaders in 2000 aimed at  reducing poverty, hunger and improving  health standards around the world.

More than 140 leaders are now meeting to review progress toward the targets.

The UN believes that the global financial and economic recession have complicated the MDGs, forcing rich nations to cut aid budgets and reduce official development assistance.

Earlier, on the first day of the three-day summit, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon told world leaders that “the clock is ticking” and there was much more to do if the goals were to be met by the 2015 deadline.

“ Being true (to the Millennium Development Goals) means supporting the vulnerable despite the economic crisis.

“ We should not balance budgets on the backs of  the poor.
“We must not draw back from official developmental assistance, a lifeline of  billions for billions,” he said.

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