KARACHI: Pakistan has been ranked 149th among 188 countries in the first global assessment of countries’ progress towards the United Nations’ health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Titled the Global Burden of Disease Study, the analysis was launched at a special event at the UN General Assembly in New York and published in The Lancet on Thursday.
The study evaluates countries by creating an overall index score on a scale of zero to 100.
Pakistan shares the score of 38 with Bangladesh and Mauritania — six places behind India and way behind Iran.
“These analyses are critically important for Pakistan as they can help set a baseline based on recent performance and also set a trajectory for achieving the health and health-related SDGs,” said Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta, Founding Director of the Aga Khan University’s Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health and co-author of the study.
The analysis shows that expanded health coverage, greater access to family planning, and fewer deaths of newborns and children under the age of five are among several health improvements contributing to progress toward achieving SDGs. However, Hepatitis B, childhood obesity, violence and alcohol consumption have worsened.
Iceland ranks the first at 85 with the United Kingdom and Canada among the top 10 at 82 and 81, respectively. With a score of 26, Afghanistan is among the bottom 10; the Central African Republic being the lowest at 20.
Kenya’s SDG index score increased between 2000 and 2015, from 33 to 40. The prevalence of childhood stunting there dropped as a percentage of the population from 39 per cent in 2000 to 26pc in 2015. One potential driver of the decrease in stunting in the country is the concurrent increase in access to health services.
The researchers note that these gains will need to be sustained, and in many cases accelerated, to achieve the ambitious SDG targets.
The findings also highlight the importance of income, education and birth rates as drivers of health improvement and that investments in those areas alone will not be sufficient.
The proportion of countries that have accomplished individual targets varies greatly. For example, more than 60pc of the 188 countries studied show maternal mortality rates below 70 deaths per 100,000 live births, effectively hitting the SDG target. In contrast, no nation has reached the objective to end childhood overweight or to fully eliminate infectious diseases like HIV or tuberculosis.
Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2016