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More UNDP support sought to reduce child mortality, child marriage

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Staff Reporter
Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Sunday urged the donor agencies particularly the UNDP to make more efforts to reduce child mortality and child marriage.
“This is the area where UNDP should give more emphasis,” he said, inaugurating a workshop on ‘Support to Sustainable and Inclusive Planning (SSIP)’ at the Planning Commission in the city.
General Economics Division of the Planning Commission organized the workshop in association with the UNDP, with Commission member Prof Dr. Shamsul Alam in the chair. Planning Secretary Bhuiyan Shafiqul Islam also spoke at the workshop.
The UNDP has been assisting the SSIP project with a view to creating coordination among the government ministries and agencies in preparing national budget in a sustainable and inclusive manner.
Referring to a UNDP report, the Planning Minister said 80 percent of women in Asia get married in underage while 40 percent in South Asia do the same. In Bangladesh, he said, one out of three gets married in underage.
He said there is a law in the country to restrict the child marriage, but the reality is different. The country’s Gaibandha, Kurigram, Bagerhat and Barisal are the areas where more attention should be paid to contain child marriage and child mortality.
Mustafa Kamal said the government has launched a project to ensure mandatory birth registration. When this project started in 2001, the rate of birth registration was 1.8 percent, which now reached to 37 percent. It will take more time to ensure hundred percent registration of birth in the country.
He said the people are not used to register births for which many people has more than one official and unofficial date of birth. Even former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has got a number of dates of birth. “I don’t blame her for this different birth day.”
Explaining the necessity of the sustainable and inclusive planning, Planning Commission Member Prof Dr. Shamsul Alam said it is often embarrassing for the government that different ministries and agencies are coming out with different data and statistics on the same issue like GDP growth.
“If there is better coordination among them, it would not happen,” he said.
Making a presentation on the SSIP, its project manager Fakrul Alam said the main objective of the project is to strengthen the capacity of government institutions to institutionalize the pro-poor policy.
The monitoring of the progress in the millennium development goals (MDG) is also a part of the objective, he said.