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Health Minister Praises UN for Adopting Sustainable Development Goals

Speakers at the opening ceremony celebrate the adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals during the 6th Annual Social Good Summit on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015 in New York. An initiative of United Nations Foundation, Mashable,

Zimbabwe's Health Minister Dr. David Parirenyatwa has called for the adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals being pushed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which may boost growth in developing nations countries like Zimbabwe.

Parirenyatwa, who is part of the Zimbabwe delegation attending the 70th session of UNGA, said the new goals will define a new era for countries which are part of the 15-year global plan.

Adopted on Friday, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a global initiative that builds on the Millennium Development Goals established in 2000. Fifteen years later, the new era foresees a global initiative to cut extreme poverty rates in half, halting the spread of HIV and AIDs, and increasing gender parity in primary school enrollment.

“The MGDs were really a beginning and were are still groping on how to manage them but now because of the practice, if you like, we had with the MDGs we can go into the SDGs with a bit more insight and forthrightness,” said Dr. Parirenyatwa.

Zimbabwe has made significant strides in some of the MDGs, including some attempts to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic and other health goals like Mother to Child Transmission of HIV and maternal mortality.

But Zimbabwe, like other countries, has failed to meet other goals. According to the World Health Organisation, Zimbabwe was unable to meet the MDG target to reduce tuberculosis prevalence and mortality rates by 50 percent.

But Dr. Parirenyatwa said Zimbabwe will take each goal at a time, prioritizing significant goals. He pointed out issues of poverty, health and education as the major priority, adding that many of the goals are a package, tackling one requires countries to tackle others.

“We will have to bite a little bit at a time, depending on the resources we have. We will not be able to do, and I don’t think any country will be able to do them all at once.”

In response to the statement by President Robert Mugabe that Zimbabwe may struggle to meet the goals because of the issue of sanctions, Dr. Parirenyatwa said it is a reality and sanctions have had an effect on the health sector.

“There’s no doubt that Zimbabwe historically and to the present we have had that big dent of the economic sanctions that were imposed on the country and they have had a quite dismantling effect. And I remember very well in 2002 when all the donors, so to speak, or all the partners quickly withdrew from the health sector.”

Despite the sanctions, both President Mugabe and Dr. Parirenyatwa said the country is committed to the newly adopted goals.

The 17 Sustainable Development goals which target poverty, hunger, quality education, gender equality, climate action to peace, justice and strong institutions are on target for the next 15 years or 2030.