Inequalities in selected health-related Millennium Development Goals indicators in all WHO Member States
The objective of this study was to quantify inequalities in selected Millennium Development Goal (MDG) indicators in all the 192 WHO Member States using descriptive statistics, the Gini coefficient and the Theil coefficient. The data on all the indicators were obtained from The World Health Report 2004. The main findings were as follows: (i) generally, all the MDG indicators are significantly worse in low-income countries than in the other three income groupings; (ii) for all the MDG indicators, there are inequalities within individual countries, within the four income groups, and across income groups of countries; (iii) the inequalities in the MDG indicators are higher among the low-income countries than in high-income countries; and (iv) the ranking of income groups, by various indicators, is fairly stable whether one employs the Gini coefficient or Theil coefficient. As Member States strive to expand the effective coverage of strategies and interventions (including health promotion, primary and secondary prevention, treatment, and care) geared at reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB; and ensuring environmental sustainability (through reduction in the use of solid fuels and expansion in access to improved water and sanitation), it is vitally important to ensure that they are implemented in a manner that redresses the inequalities in various MDG indicators. Thus, it is vital for countries to systematically monitor not only the changes in various MDG indicators but also the inequalities across the various income quintiles. In addition, at the regional and global levels, it is necessary to set up mechanisms for rigorous monitoring of the inequalities in the MDG indicators across the income groups of countries. The lessons learnt from the monitoring processes should inform the design and targeting of the various MDG-related policies, strategies and interventions with a view to eradicating the inequalities.
African Journal of Health Sciences Vol. 14 (3-4) 2007: pp. 171-186