Editorial

We can improve our Human Development Index

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Ghana Country Office, has released the Human Development Index (HDI) Report, giving thumbs up to Ghana for improving upon its HDI values.

According to the report, Ghana’s HDI of 0.596 is above the regional (Sub-Saharan Africa) average value of 0.541, but still lags behind the developed countries.

It further states that between 1990 and 2018 when the first report was produced, the country’s HDI increased from 0.454 to 0.596, which represents an increase of 31.0 per cent, putting Ghana into the medium human development category.

The new report ranks Ghana 142 out 189 countries, up from 140 in 2017.

It notes that though Ghana’s HDI has increased, its ranking has reduced, drawing attention that the country’s progress is slow as compared to others.

The HDI, which is periodical information compiled by the UNDP, assesses long-term progress in three important basic dimensions of human development: long and healthy life, access to knowledge and standard of living.

The report measures life expectancy, that is the average period that a person may expect to live from birth, while knowledge level is measured by the average number of years of schooling received in a life time by people of 25 years old and above.

The standard of living is measured by how much each individual member of the population is expected to receive, if the national wealth, calculated as Gross National Income, were distributed.

The report, titled: “Beyond income, beyond averages, beyond inequalities in human development in the 21st Century”, notes that life expectancy in Ghana averages 63.8 years, an improvement over 56.8 in the 1990s.

The report adds that the expected years of schooling also increased from 7.6 years to 11.5 years.

Despite these good indicators, we are worried about the inequality in HDI for the country which is estimated at 0.427, implying that Ghana is losing about 28.3 per cent due to inequality in the distribution of the HDI indices.

We add our voice to the sentiments expressed by the UNDP officials on the need for the country to tackle the underlining drivers of inequalities, by pursuing inclusive policies to ensure fair distribution of the national resources to uplift the poorest segment of the population from the shackles of poverty and deprivation.

The Ghanaians Times reminds that the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development enjoins us to promote good health and wellbeing of the people so that “we leave no one behind”.

Although we have done well in our development agenda, having reduced poverty in the country, we still experience growing inequalities and should be proactive and address it through pragmatic social inclusive policies.

We hasten to add that although life expectancy has increased in Ghana, averaging 63.8 year, we still have the “Gone to soon” and “What a shock”, inscribed on some obituaries that implies that we die at our prime ages. 

It is, therefore, an obligation for us to tackle seriously the incidence of non-communicable diseases, like hypertension, stroke, diabetes, among others, that are associated with growing unhealthy life styles and sedentary lives.

While our achievements as a country over the years are commendable, we should not rest on our oars, but to do more to better our circumstance and achieve the targets set in the Sustainable Development Goals so that we “leave no one behind”. 

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