FIRST Lady Christine Kaseba has said Zambia has in the last decade recorded significant progress towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Speaking in Lusaka on Thursday evening at the 67th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) and the launch of the MDG Campaign and Post-2015 consultations, she said Zambia had met, among others, the primary education enrolment target, and reduced the national HIV prevalence rate to below 15.6 per cent.
Dr Kaseba said the country had already reached its target of 80 per cent access to Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART), and that significant progress had been made in reaching targets in malaria and other major diseases.
She said there were, however, areas in which the country may not have fared well and needed improvement.
"Despite the robust annual growth of six per cent in the recent past, poverty in Zambia remains stubbornly high. We are not doing well in further cutting the levels of maternal mortality, protecting our environment and making sure we have more women in Parliament.
"When we look at national aggregates, we see promising trends but we must also look beyond the national averages. If the gap between the rich and poor is growing, if children are malnourished, if young productive people are dying from preventable diseases and mothers are still dying at child birth, then what is the real value of this growth?" she questioned.
The First Lady urged the Government to ensure that women and children were better protected and that cases of domestic violence were reduced.
She said the true purpose of progress could only be measured if more women owned land and businesses, and joined the local authorities and National Assembly, and if the quality of the country's education improved.
Dr Kaseba said Zambia was proud to have been chosen to be among other countries leading the post-2015 consultations.
At the same occasion, Transport, Works, Supply and Communications Deputy Minister Mutaba Mwali reiterated Government's commitment to eradicating poverty in Zambia.
"To attain this, Government has increased funding to the education sector by 15.8 per cent and to the health sector by 40.7 per cent over last year's allocation," he said.
Dr Mwali said the Government had also formulated the National Strategy for Industrialisation and Job Creation which focused on tourism, manufacturing and infrastructure development.
And UN Resident Coordinator, Kanni Wignaraja commended the Government for its support, leadership and positive contributions to the UN activities.