Old and new challenges hindering sub-Saharan African countries from achieving MDGs


Sub-Saharan Africa continues to show progress on achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but will probably not meet most of the targets by the end of 2015. According to the Millennium Development Goals Report 2014, although it looks like the region has continuously showed progress, persisting and newly emerging challenges are preventing it from achieving the set goals. Some of the challenges mentioned include population growth, conflict and declines in aid.
The report further reads that despite a new high in official development assistance in 2013, aid has shifted away from the poorest countries where achieving the MDGs lags the most. Statistics show that net bilateral aid to Africa, where 34 of 48 least developed countries are, fell by 5.6 percent in 2013.
The sub-Saharan region has shown a considerable improvement in the education sector with the primary net enrollment increasing from 60 percent to 78 percent. On the other hand, while the region is home to over half of the world’s out-of-school primary school age population, aid for basic education declined by 7 percent in the last couple of years.
MDG 5 4 and 5; reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, are still in need of greater improvement. Even though maternal mortality declined by 48 percent within the last two decades, the report states the region is still likely to miss the target at the end of 2015. According to data, in 2012, only 53 percent of deliveries were attended by skilled health professionals and one in ten children died before their 5th birthday.
The Sub-Saharan Africa region remains the only developing region that is seeing the number of people living in extreme poverty steadily increasing. According to the MDGs report, since 1990 to 2010, the number of people living in extreme poverty increased from 290 million to 414 million. A projection by the World Bank shows that by the end of 2015, 40 percent of the 970 million people in the world that are living on less than USD 1.25 per day will be from the sub-Saharan Africa.
It also says that the sub-Saharan Africa is also the only region where the number of children affected by stunting of growth increased during the last two decades.
On the brighter side, sub-Saharan Africa has shown strong results against malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS.  In the last decade, the lives of an estimated 3 million children under the age of five were saved through coordinated interventions, the report indicates.
The report says the region is on its way to halting the spread of and reversing the incidence of tuberculosis. The estimated number of new tuberculosis cases fell from 321 per 100,000 people in 2002 to 255 in 2012.
In the case of HIV, new infections in the region fell by more than half between 2001 and 2012. Sub-Saharan Africa has the second highest rate of access to treatment for HIV/AIDS, with 63 percent people living with HIV receiving antiretroviral therapy in 2012.
However, it still remains the most severely affected by HIV with 70 percent, meaning 1.6 million, cases of the estimated number of new infections in 2012 occurred in the region.