Wednesday, February 21, 2024
 
 

Many countries likely to miss global education and nutrition goals

EPA-EFE//YAHYA ARHAB
A woman holds the legs of her malnourished child at the intensive care unit of a hospital in Sana'a, Yemen.

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Despite global progress in education access and participation as well as in the tackling of malnutrition, current trajectories in many countries show that the relevant United Nations’ Sustainable goals are likely to be missed.
According to new studies conducted by The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), figures from low- and middle-income countries from 2000 to 2017 show that there is still much that needs to be done at the level of individual districts to achieve both global education and nutrition targets.
Regarding education, the findings show that 1 in 10 women of the ages of 20-24 in the said countries had zero years of schooling in 2017, while 1 in 6 did not complete their primary education. High proportions of women with zero years of education in 2017 were noted in districts of nations like Afghanistan, Niger, and The Gambia.
Moreover, gender inequality appears to persist in numerous districts in Yemen, Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, and Afghanistan. In around 140 districts of these countries, there is a gap of more than three years between men and women.
In addition, less than 1% of the districts studied were close to meeting the UN’s goal of universal secondary education by 2030 for both genders, with most of those being in Uzbekistan and the remainder in the Philippines.
“We know that education is closely related to people’s health and well-being, particularly the health of mothers and children,” said Dr Simon I. Hay, senior author of the study. “This study enables all of us – teachers, educators, researchers, and policymakers – to look at disparities not just between countries, but at the level of individual communities.”
Important progress in education was observed in countries such as South Africa, Peru and Colombia. While there were countries where progress on women’s education turned out to often correlate with overall equality improvement within the country, in countries such as India and Nigeria national progress was achieved while the inequality was increasing.
The proportion of women aged 20-24 achieving secondary education noted an increasing from 11% to 37% in India during the study period, while in Nigeria this proportion went from 12% to 45%. It is noted that most of this progress was thanks to urban regions, particularly Maharashtra in India and Lagos in Nigeria. Nigeria, however, remained one of the countries with the world’s highest inequality in education in 2017.
When it comes to “child growth failure”, defined as insufficient height and weight for a given age expressed as stunting, wasting, and underweight in children under five years of age, the research revealed that 1 in 4 children in the districts studied still suffered at least one dimension of malnutrition.
However, it is mentioned that there is ‘‘inequality within countries doing well and those doing poorly’’. For instance, in Kenya, there was a 9-fold difference in wasting between Tetu constituency and Turkana East constituency.
According to the predictions, out of all low- and middle-income countries, just five will achieve the World Health Organization’s (WHO) goals for stunting and wasting in all units. Nevertheless, the research shows that there are still priority regions where interventions could be targeted.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent global health research organization at the University of Washington School of Medicine that provides a rigorous and comparable measurement of the world’s most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them.

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