American billionaire, Bill Gates, has urged governments across the world to focus more on primary healthcare development and education as a means of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Using Nigeria as an example, Mr Gates also condemned uneven development in societies and urged governments to ensure sufficient spread of developmental efforts.
Mr Gates spoke at the Goalkeepers event at Lincoln Centre in New York on Wednesday. He said although there has been progress in achieving the SDGs, more can be achieved if governments in the developing countries focus more on those two sectors.
The Goalkeepers event is an annual meeting organised by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to celebrate people who make committed efforts to achieving the SDGs.
The event, which is co-hosted by the couple, is also meant as a reminder and call to the world on the work left to be done.
Mr Gates said compared to years back, data shows progress in many parts of the world.
He, however, said there is no room to rejoice yet as there are many people who are still left behind.
He said the progress is skewed in many regions, even within countries, as the development has not been even across the regions. He advised countries to work towards even development.
Referring to the Goalkeepers report which was released ahead of the event, Mr Gates said where a child is born determines if it will survive the first five years.
“To succeed, government needs to take best practices from where there are success stories and replicate them in places that are lagging behind. It is not acceptable that women and children still die from maternity and child mortality or diseases that can be prevented.”
The Nigerian Example
Mr Gates said there is a high level of malnutrition and poor health care services in the northern part of the country as compared to the south-west.
Going by the analysis of the report, a child born in the south-west is more likely to survive his fifth year, have some level of education and a better life than his counterpart born in the north. Life becomes a bit more difficult if the child is a girl, he said.
He said many of the diseases children die from in those areas with less development are vaccine-preventable and can be averted with good primary healthcare facilities, diagnosis laboratories and trained human resources.
In a similar vein, Senjuti Saha, said many developing countries suffer from preventable diseases.
Ms Saha, a microbiologist from Bangladesh, said diseases are not quickly diagnosed in many developing countries because of lack of access to resources.
She said many children, thus, die from preventable diseases.
She said it is unfair that resources needed for diagnosis and treatment of diseases are in the developed world where they are, sometimes, not needed.
“The reality is that it’s not fair that developed countries have technologies to diagnose diseases they do not have while the developing countries do not have the technologies and that is why they are dying.
“Ninety per cent of the technologies are in the developed world and we need diagnosis to get better.”
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