PM Douglas tells U.N. MDG Plenary St. Kitts and Nevis has made strides

PM Douglas at UN Meeting

ST. KITTS, SEPTEMBER 23, 2010 (CUOPM) – St. Kitts and Nevis, although the smallest independent nation in the western hemisphere, has made strides towards the highest standards of democratic governance, strict observance of human rights, sound economic principles, and a commitment to a high standard of living.

Addressing world leaders and delegates to the United Nations General Assembly High-level Plenary Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals in New York on Wednesday, St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas in assessing progress related to the Millennium Development Goals, stated that extreme poverty fell from 11 percent in 2000 to 1.4 per cent in 2009; compulsory universal access to primary and secondary education was in effect since 1965; women’s participation at all levels of policymaking and governance was the norm; infant and maternal mortality was in a downward positive trend – the latter had been negligible – and geothermal and wind energy projects had been implemented.

He said his country’s progress towards achieving the Goals was the result of careful planning and management, he said. But progress made could be “blown away in a matter of minutes.”

St. Kitts and Nevis he said would be at the mercy of an already tight financial market, particularly difficult for his small nation due to the “unfair” calculation of its gross domestic product (GDP) using per capita, which placed the country in a higher bracket than reality justifiably supported and denied it access to concessional loans.

“The fact that we are this concerned is not consistent with the spirit of the Millennium Development Goals,” said Prime Minister Douglas as he encouraged countries to take action “to promote the kind of collaborative efforts that advance the common good and place partnership above parochialism.”

Noting that St. Kitts and Nevis with a population just under 50,000, or landmass of 104 square miles, smallness has never been a deterrent to progress nor an excuse not to adhere to the highest standards of democratic governance, strict observance of human rights, sound economic principles, and commitment to a high standard of living.

“I am pleased to say that since the late 1990s, we have implemented internal mechanisms and policies which coupled with citizenship engagement has allowed us, on an ongoing basis, to be able to assess progress in fulfilling our own development needs which coincide with the MDG’s,” said Dr. Douglas.

“St. Kitts and Nevis was among the first in the Western Hemisphere to establish a Ministry of Women’s Affairs. And even before political independence 27 years ago, women have been occupying high offices and decision making roles. Today, women empowerment and participation in all levels of policy making and governance is the norm; and gender is not a limiting factor in assigning persons to key posts in St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

He said that Infant Mortality rate in the last decade has shown an appreciable downward positive trend and Maternal Mortality has been negligible during the period under review due to his Government’s steady investment in the health sector, including capacity building consistent with its commitment to improve the quality of life of its citizens.

“PANCAP, the PAN Caribbean partnership on HIVIAIDS of which St. Kitts and Nevis is a member, is regarded by UNAIDS as an international best practice in combating HIVIAIDS. It is also renowned for its practices in prevention, treatment and care; and indeed, as an advocate for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against people affected by the disease,” Prime Minister Douglas reported.

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