6 September 2005
South Africa is well on the way to meeting its Millennium Development Goals before the 2015 deadline, according to a government report detailing the country’s challenges and successes in poverty alleviation and sustainable social development.
The Millennium Development Goal country report will be included in South Africa’s report to the UN at the Millennium Review Summit starting in the US on 14 September.
The eight goals, comprising 18 specific targets, were adopted at the United Nations as part of the Millennium Declaration in 2000.
The eight goals are:
- To eradicate extreme poverty.
- To achieve universal primary education.
- To promote gender equality and empower women.
- To reduce child mortality.
- To improve maternal health.
- To combat HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases.
- To ensure environmental sustainability.
- To develop a global partnership for development.
South African achievements
Briefing the media on the report in Pretoria on Friday, Department of Health director-general Thami Mseleku said measures taken by South Africa to eradicate poverty included social grants, which increased from R10-billion in 1994 to R37.1-billion in 2004 as the number of beneficiaries grew from 2.6-million to 7.9-million people.
Other government interventions included the expanded public works, agricultural starter pack and comprehensive agricultural support programmes.
Using expenditure-related indices – particularly the living standards measurements of the SA Advertising Research Foundation – the report reveals that the proportion of the population made up of the poorest South Africans is shrinking.
Mseleku said the government’s expenditure on combating HIV/Aids had increased from about R30-million in 1994 to R342-million in 2001/02, and was set to rise to R3.6-billion in 2005/06.
By the end of April 2004, 50 000 patients were receiving antiretroviral therapy at 143 facilities across the country. “Besides treating HIV-positive patients and those with Aids, the programme focuses on prevention, promotion, care, support and human rights,” Mseleku said.
Access to sanitation increased from 49% of households in 1994 to 63% in 2003, while households with access to clean water increased from 60% in 1995 to 85% in 2003. By December 2004, 10-million South Africans had access to clean water.
Between April 1994 and March 2005, 2.4-million housing subsidies were approved and 1.74-million housing units built. In the same period, 3.5-million homes were electrified at a rate of over 435 000 homes a year.
Enrolment for primary education increased from some 150 000 in 1999 to 280 000 in 2002.
Mseleku said the challenge was to ensure that these goals were achieved in other African countries as well. He emphasised the importance of global partnerships for development that would ensure open, predictable and non-discriminatory trading and financial systems, including commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction.
These partnerships would have to address the special needs of least-developed countries, deal with developing countries’ debt problems, and develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for young people.
One issue emerging from the report was the lack of baseline data and the recording of quality data.
“While we have made great strides in improving the quality of data since 1994, we are unfortunately a long way from delivering good-quality data today,” said Health Minister Tshabalala-Msimang.
She added that the second problem with reporting data, as required by the UN, was that national averages hid provincial variations. For example, while the country’s immunisation rate stood at 82%, certain districts in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal had coverage rates as low as 40%.