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Focus on human development

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In the latest Human Development Index of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Philippines’ ranking went up five spots, although it still remains among the laggards in Southeast Asia.

The country ranked 113th out of 193 countries in the UNDP index, which measures a country’s health, education, and standard of living. Our score improved to 0.71 in 2022 from 0.692 in 2021, and it also marks the highest score achieved since hitting 0.714 in 2019.

However, the Philippines’ score is still below the average for East Asia and the Pacific which is at 0.766, and the global average of 0.739.

In Southeast Asia, human development levels were “very high” in Hong Kong (fourth), Singapore (ninth), Brunei Darussalam (55th), Malaysia (63rd), and Thailand (66th). At 113th, the Philippines has a long way to go before matching its regional neighbors in that regard.

While the index value is greater than in 2019, the UNDP said it does not mean the world has fully recovered from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and other crises. “Essentially, we have not reached the level of human development that could have been expected had the pandemic not happened,” the report said.

Jose Enrique Africa, executive director of think tank IBON Foundation, said the Philippines’ human development ranking does not reflect an improvement in the poverty situation, as the country’s economic growth has been “grossly inequitable,” and profit and wealth gains are for the richest, rather than a generalized improvement in the conditions of the majority.

An improvement in the Human Development Index ranking is always welcome, even if the country remains among the laggards in the region. It means that we are still moving forward, not backwards, and if we continue doing so, there is a chance we can catch up, and maybe even surpass our peers. For that to happen, our government will have to prioritize the human development of Filipinos, through programs and initiatives, along with allocating funds so any sweet words can be converted into action and results.*

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