Invest in family planning, education to achieve SDGs - Bill Gates

18Sep 2018
Songa wa Songa
The Guardian
Invest in family planning, education to achieve SDGs - Bill Gates

AMERICAN philanthropist Bill Gates has called upon Tanzania and other developing countries to increase their investment in family planning and education so as to make progress in their efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Bill Gates.

Speaking in a teleconference from the US last week in which this paper participated, Gates who is co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said countries that give their women an opportunity to choose when and how many times to give birth, and give children proper education, stand a better chance of achieving the SDGs compared to those that do not.

According to recent data from the Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey (TDHS) for 2015, 27 out of 100 girls get pregnant before reaching 18, an increase from 23 per cent in the 2010 TDHS.

And the same data show that only 32 per cent of married women use modern methods of family planning.

“If those investments are made in the right way, you get two kind of amazing effects: One is those kids are able to contribute fully and drive a lot of economic growth, and then further, the patterns of behavior on voluntary basis would be that the level of population growth would actually diminish, just like it has in so many countries,” he said.

Gates’ teleconference with journalists from around the world came ahead of the Goalkeepers event in New York City next week during the UN General Assembly. The event is the Gates foundation's campaign to accelerate progress towards the SDGs.

The second annual Goalkeepers Data Report which is scheduled for launch in the US today shows that while 1 billion people have lifted themselves out of poverty over the past 20 years, rapid population growth in the poorest countries, particularly in Africa, puts future progress at risk. The report notes that if current trends continue, the number of extremely poor people in the world could stop its two-decade decline—and could even rise.

“The conclusion is clear: To continue improving the human condition, our task now is to help create opportunities in Africa’s fastest-growing, poorest countries,” Bill and Melinda Gates write in the introduction.

 “This means investing in young people. Specifically, it means investing in their health and education.”

Goalkeepers: The Stories Behind the Data 2018, a report co-authored and edited by Bill and Melinda Gates and produced in partnership with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington reveals that poverty within Africa is concentrating in just a handful of countries, which are among the fastest-growing in the world.

“By 2050, more than 40 percent of the extremely poor people in the world will live in just two countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria,” reads the report.

 Each year, the report tracks 18 data points from the UN Sustainable Development Goals including child and maternal deaths, stunting, access to contraceptives, HIV, malaria, extreme poverty, financial inclusion, and sanitation.

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