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India ranks worse than comparable BRICS countries in achieving UN development goals, better than Pak, B'desh

By Rajiv Shah
A high-profile study, carried out by well-known international health journal, “Lancet”, has calculated that India’s health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) ranking is a poor 127th among 188 countries it has analyzed to find out how well are different countries across the globe are doing for achieving the United Nation’s goals.
Analyzing 37 health-related SDGs out of 50, the study, titled “Measuring progress and projecting attainment on the basis of past trends of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals in 188 countries: an analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016”, finds that the only consolation for Indian policy makers is, two of the immediate neighbours, Pakistan and Bangladesh, rank 148th and 155th respectively.
Interestingly, India’s southern neighbour, Sri Lanka, is found to be ranking far better than India, 70th. SDGs are to be achievable by the year 2030.
At the same time, the study, which has been funded by the Funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, notes that among the comparable BRICS (acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations, India ranks worst. Brazil ranks 67th, China 74th, Russia 103rd, and South Africa 122nd.
The UN's SDGs are grounded in the global ambition of “leaving no one behind”. “Understanding today's gains and gaps for the health-related SDGs is essential for decision makers as they aim to improve the health of populations”, says the “Lancet” study, adding, “As part of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2016 (GBD 2016), we measured 37 of the 50 health-related SDG indicators over the period 1990–2016.”
Projecting indicators for the year 2030, the study says, “We used standardised GBD 2016 methods to measure 37 health-related indicators from 1990 to 2016”, adding, among special indictors it used are universal health coverage (UHC) measures, which focuses on coverage of essential health services, personal health-care access and quality for several non-communicable diseases.
Measuring each country on a scale of 0–100, the study says, “Globally, the median health-related SDG index was 56·7 in 2016 and country-level performance markedly varied, with Singapore (86·8), Iceland (86·0), and Sweden (85·6) having the highest levels, and Afghanistan (10·9), the Central African Republic (11·0), and Somalia (11·3) recording the lowest.”
The study finds that India’s health-related SDG is 39, a slight improvement over the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) index (36), set by the UN in in the year 2000, achievable by 2015.
On a scale of 100, with 0 representing the worst levels from 1990 to 2030, India’s index was found to be 36 for mortality due to exposure to forces of nature; 22 for maternal mortality ratio; 67 for skilled birth attendance; 21 for neonatal mortality; 74 for prevalence of 15 neglected tropical diseases; and 39 for mortality due to a subset of non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases).
The index further shows that the country’s index, on a scale of 100, was 81 for family planning need met with modern contraception methods; 54 for adolescent birth rate; 38 for universal health coverage index; 15 for mortality attributable to household air pollution and ambient air pollution; and 11 for mortality attributable to unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene.
The study notes, “Between 2000 and 2016, notable improvements in the UHC index were achieved by several countries, including Cambodia, Rwanda, Equatorial Guinea, Laos, Turkey, and China; however, a number of countries, such as Lesotho and the Central African Republic, but also high-income countries, such as the USA, showed minimal gains.”

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