Vellore in Tamil Nadu with 100% institutional deliveries, where “98 of 100 children are likely to see their fifth birthday” and Budaun in Uttar Pradesh with 58.1% institutional births (data from National Family Health Survey 4) represented the two extremes of the developing world as Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates presented the report card on child survival at the annual Goalkeepers event on Wednesday.
“(Statistics show) in 99% districts the situation has improved, the world is getting better even in the toughest places for child survival…in India which is the world’s biggest developing country, there are gaps. In Vellore, the education and child survival figures are the same as in a rich country with 98 of 100 children likely to see their fifth birthday and most of them likely to get a high school education…(on the other hand) is Budaun in Uttar Pradesh where 10% children born do not live beyond their fifth birthday and many of them do not get an education past primary school. India is not on track to achieve SDGs but Vellore will achieve them 10 years in advance,” Gates said. Tamil Nadu is one of the most advanced states in India when it comes to healthcare and human development indices. Uttar Pradesh is among the more challenging ones where parameters like total fertility rate and infant mortality rate are still way below the national average.
Goalkeepers is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s campaign to accelerate progress towards the SDGs which need to be achieved by 2030. By sharing stories and data behind the Global Goals through events and an annual report, the foundation hopes to inspire a new generation of leaders—Goalkeepers who raise awareness of progress, hold their leaders accountable, and drive action to achieve the Global Goals.
On Tuesday prime minister Narendra Modi received the Goalkeeper award for the Swacch Bharat Mission that pulled up rural sanitation in India from 40% to 100% in just five years.
Also a part of the second day of Goalkeepers were New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Arden and Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez, who, Melinda Gates said, stood out for their value-based leadership against some other leaders whose power stemmed from their ability to instil fear. Arden who had come in for praise in the wake of her leadership after the Christchurch terror attack, spoke about how for the first time this year her government had presented a well-being budget, as she believed that by ensuring people’s well-being it is possible to increase their productivity and thus increase GDP. Sanchez announced that Spain is ready to return to the donor fold with a 2 million Euro commitment for SDGs and for environment.
Sanchez talked about how from July 30, the world is now officially consuming more resources than the earth can generate in a year making it unsustainable at the present rate. “I am a feminist politician, very proud to head a government with 65 percent women,” he announced. Gender equality is SDG5.
(The author was in New York on the invitation of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation)