Mauritius: Social Ills Prevail Despite Meeting MDGs

  •  port-louis
  • Inter Press Service

Although Mauritius's 2009 MDG figures, released in September by the government;s Central Statistics Office, show it is pretty much on course to achieve all MDG targets, social activists say the results are misleading because the MDGs focus only on selected problem areas.

'There are other real issues [that need to be addressed], like debt, non-communicable diseases, pollution, insecurity and violence, and so on, that have a negative impact on our society,' says Vidya Charan, executive director of non-profit organisation Mauritius Family Planning and Welfare Association (MFPWA).

Charan is worried the government will use the positive MDG figures as an excuse to ignore other social problems, such as the decline of employment in the textile and manufacturing industries or environmental destruction caused by the ever-growing tourism and construction industries.

In terms of the MDG framework, Mauritius is certainly looking good. Less than one percent of the population of 1.2 million is deemed to be living in extreme poverty (MDG 1); economic growth is rapid and per capita income is above $4,000 (MDG 8). Mauritius has already achieved MDG 2, universal access to primary education in the early 1990s. It has met MDG 4, reducing of the under-five child mortality rate by two thirds, and MDG 5 of improving maternal health - maternal deaths holding steady between 2007 and 2009.

HIV, malaria and tuberculosis prevalence (MDG 6) are very low in the country. The island has been declared a malaria risk-free area, while TB incidence decreased from 10.8 cases per 100,000 people in 1990 to 8.9 cases per 100,000 people in 2009. HIV prevalence is low at 0.15 percent in the highest risk group of 15 to 24-year-olds. In terms of achieving environmental sustainability (MDG 7), Mauritius can show, among other factors, that it managed to decrease consumption of chlorofluorocarbons from 65 metric tonnse in 1993 to a negligible amount in 2004.

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