Over the past decade, Maldives has achieved remarkable progress in terms of development and economic growth earning praise from key partners across the region. Most notably, Maldives’ graduation from a Least Developed Country to a Middle Income Country has seen significant progress in the economic sector, with the country’s GDP per capita increasing notably. It now stands remarkably higher than many other countries in the region even surpassing India and China – the two emerging economic powers with the highest population in the world.
Having successfully fulfilled 5 out of the 8 Millennium Development Goals well ahead of time, Maldives is also known as a MDG Plus country setting a leading example for other countries to follow. Noting that the Maldives is performing exceptionally well in many indicators, UNFPA Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, Ms. Nobuko Horibe, on a recent visit to Maldives, has commended the country for its gains over the past few years.
Highlighting that the health indicators in Maldives are ‘generally good’, Ms. Horibe went on to say that institutional delivery or delivery by skilled attendant is high while mortality is significantly low in Maldives.
She however pointed out one area the Maldives could improve on significantly. According to Ms. Horibe, family planning is one area that the UNFPA in Maldives needs to focus on as the usage of prevention methods in Maldives is low compared to other countries.
Ms. Horibe noted that contraceptive usage, especially modern methods, is very low and there is an unmet need for family planning for those people who choose to use family planning but do not have access to contraceptives. The result, according to Ms. Horibe, is an unwanted pregnancy where another baby is born to the family.
“The institution delivery in Maldives is quite high; it is almost universal and deliveries by skilled attendants are also remarkably high. The mortality rate is significantly low. So the only health indicator that needs improvement is family planning and making it available to married and unmarried people; young and old,” Ms. Horibe said.
Indicating that there is a great potential for local investments in Maldives, Ms. Horibe suggests UNFPA changing its focus to get the private sector to mobilize their money into projects related to key priority areas such as reproductive health commodities. She said public-private partnerships could help in many ways including financial aid, contributing towards capacity building or human resources development. According to UNFPA Regional Director, thinking local rather than global will help Maldives achieve its developmental goals to secure funding for essential projects and programmes.
Based on the outcome of the national survey conducted by UNFPA reaffirming that health indicators in Maldives are relatively good and the national income of the country is high, UNFPA concludes that Maldives needs more advocacy and policy dialogue in addressing its various problems.
“For instance, linking Maldives with other island countries to share lessons and common challenges and brokering these idea exchanges are more beneficial to Maldives right now,” UNFPA Regional Director said.
As the post-2015 discussion continues to influence the decisions made globally to deliver a better world for every citizen, Ms. Horibe noted, UNFPA has a pivotal role to play in terms of integrating their mandates into the discussion.
“We are trying to make sure our mandate remain focused on women’s health, young people’s opportunities, gender equality and use of data, more evidence-based planning and monitoring better with the data. So these are the areas we want to focus on our strategic planning and UNDAF,” Ms. Horibe remarked.