MDG 5, what went wrong? SDG 3, what can be done?

MDG 5, what went wrong? SDG 3, what can be done?
Source: Ghana| Victor Owusu Boateng
Date: 22-10-2018 Time: 04:10:09:pm

For every Country to develop, the education and health of the people are very paramount. These generate a lot of quality, efficient and effective human resources.

Therefore, a country cannot develop without quality education, quality health delivery and health care.

This article focuses on what went wrong so far as the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) five (5) is concerned. Now that we have transitioned to SDGs with 17 Goals and 169 targets while MDGs had 8 Goals, 21 targets and 60 indicators, what can be done to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3?

Ghana, like many other developing countries, relies mainly on survey and population census data for planning at national and sub-national levels.

The Millennium Development Goals came from the Millennium Declaration, signed by 189 Countries, including 147 Heads of State and Government in September 2000. Building on the United Nations global conferences of the 1990s, the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 2000 marked a strong commitment to the right to development, peace and security, gender equality, the eradication of the many dimensions of poverty and sustainable human development.

The goals represent a partnership between the developed and developing countries. It was “To create an environment at the national and global levels alike which is conclusive to development and the elimination of poverty”. This is what became known as the Eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including 21 time-bound targets and 60 indicators.

Likewise, the Sustainable Development Goals is a resource for technical review of the targets carried out in preparation for their adoption and translation at the national level.

It is a unique tool designed primarily for negotiation, technical support teams and other actors engaged in defining a universal, integrated and transformational set of global 17 goals and 169 targets for sustainable development and political declaration on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

With more than 40 contributing authors from 21 countries, the SDGs report brings together a wide range of scientific expertise across the national and social sciences in an accessible and concise manner.


The proposed SDGs offer major improvements on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The SDG framework addresses key systemic barriers to sustainable development such as inequality, unsustainable consumption patterns, weak institutional capacity and environmental degradation that the MDGs failed to address.

The SDG framework would benefit from overall narrative articulation and the Goals will lead to broader outcomes for people and the planet.  An overarching goal could be formulated, for instance in the political declaration framing Post-2015 Development Agenda, binding together the 17 goals, thus providing a clearer means to end Continuum.

The current SDG framework identifies the wide range of social groups that will need to be mobilized to deliver on the goals as agents of change alongside governments.

Key trade-offs and complementarities among goals and targets should be specified in a follow-up document.

This means from a scientific perspective, the proposed Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs) offer major improvements on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Not only do they address some of the Systemic Barriers to sustainable development but they also offer better coverage of, and balance between the three dimensions of sustainable development-social, economic and environmental and the institutional/governance aspects.

The overall balance is illustrated by four of the goals discussing global environmental issues (climate, water, ecosystems, and oceans).

The MDGs dealt only with developing countries and to a limited degree, captured all three dimensions of sustainability that is why it had had 8 goals and 21 targets compared to the SDGs which have 17 Goals and 169 targets.

In contrast, the SDGs deal with all countries and all dimensions, although the relevance of each goal will vary from country to country. Despite both repetition and many weakly formulated targets in the Organizational Working Groups (OWG) proposal-which must certainly be resolved. The SDG process has been a huge step forward through the effort to create universal goals that articulate the need and opportunity for the global community to come together to create a sustainable future in an interconnected world.

Action Now.

The Right to Health

State institutions responsible for the health status of the country fail to recognize the factors and framework needed to reduce national mortality rates. The indicators needed to be adhered to were:

 Maternal Mortality Ratio, proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel, contraceptive prevalence rate, adolescent birth rate, antenatal care coverage and unmet need for family planning.

The Ghana Constitution gives every Ghanaian the Right to Health. From the diagram above, the underlying determinants are:

Water, sanitation, food, nutrition, housing, healthy occupational and environmental conditions.

Education information

If these determinants were taken seriously, as a country, Ghana could have performed tremendously well as far as the MDG 5 is concerned. We have a situation, where getting potable water is difficult, and our sanitation situation is very poor and nothing good to write home about.

These are areas that need to be tackled to provide pregnant women with the facilities and conducive environment needed to enhance their health status.

Nutrition – this is the basic body building ingredient that can be gotten from good food. This means that, if there is no food how can a pregnant woman get such quality nutrients to sustain herself and the unborn child?

The sleeping place of a pregnant woman should be looked at. This requires that, every pregnant woman should have adequate spacing and well-ventilated room, so that she would be comfortable.

The kind of work and the working environment of pregnant women is a critical contributing factor to maternal deaths. Certain jobs and its environment associated with pregnancy put women at risk, but because of the economic situation in the country, people especially pregnant women, always trade money with health status.

Education information here requires that, every pregnant woman should have access to quality education on pregnancy-related issues. These can be obtained on the internet, from books and other relevant journals. These can help women prepare well for their pregnancy period from the initial stage to the final stage. When these fine determinants are not met, it would be very difficult for Ghana as a country to meet the MDG 5 and subsequently, the SDGs.

Other factors that needed to be considered are the following:

Availability of Health facility, accessibility to Health facility, acceptability of the Health care and quality Health care.


This refers to the presence of functioning public health and health care facilities, goods and services (which includes availability of health personnel and medicines) as well as programmes in sufficient quality. The fact that there is a hospital, clinic, health Centre, health post, CHPS compound, we should ask ourselves is, “are they functioning the way we required?” If there is a “white elephant”, where there are no health personnel or adequate equipment, we cannot say that a health facility is available.


Health facilities, goods and services are accessible to everyone within the jurisdiction of the state party. Accessibility has four overlapping dimensions:

Non – discrimination

Physical accessibility

Economic accessibility (Affordability)


If a health facility is available, but not accessible, pregnant women cannot benefit from such a facility. All efforts should be made to ensure accessibility, so that the SDGs would not be like MDGs.


If health facility is available and accessible, can we say the people will accept it? All health facilities, goods and services must respect medical ethics and be culturally appropriate as well as sensitive to gender and life-cycle requirements.

In the course of building a health facility, if the people in the community are not consulted, the facility would be there and pregnant women might choose not to patronize it since it might not conform to their cultural and religious beliefs.


Health facilities, goods and services must be scientifically and medically appropriate and of good quality.

If the remuneration of health personnel and their emolument are not all that appropriate, then the commitment of the health personnel to pregnant women would not be adequate.

Quality goes with the nature and the environment within which the facility is situated, the quality of the equipment and its efficiency and effectiveness. The right to health, like all human rights, imposes on the State Party 3 types of obligations:

Respect: This means simply not to interfere with the enjoyment of the right to health.

Protect: This means ensuring that third parties (non-state actors) do not infringe upon the enjoyment of the right to health.

Fulfill: This means taking positive steps to realize the right to health.

Another aspect we can consider is the individual behaviour as far as getting treatment for pregnant women is concerned.


Credit: Ministry of Health (MoH)

Ghana Health Service (GHS)



Demographer/ Statistician

Ghana Statistical Service



Have your say  

More Opinion Headlines

What others are reading
St. Roses crashed in NSMQ regional contest
3 young Ghanaians launch project to bridge ICT gap for rural children
Do you consume more data on 4G?
Gov't commended for launch of procurement Ethics and Standards Committee