Info Service on Health Issues (Jan 11/02)
25 January 2011
bumped from Human Development Index
which has consistently chalked up impressive achievements in health,
education and life expectancy despite a long standing US blockade on
the country, has been left out of the UN Human Development Index.
following story is reproduced with permission from IPS and South-North Development Monitor
SUNS #7072, 24 January 2011
United Nations: Cuba bumped from Human Development Index
By Thalif Deen, IPS, New York, 20 January 2011
When the UN Development Programme
(UNDP) formulates its annual Human Development Index (HDI), it uses
several socioeconomic indicators - including life expectancy, gross
national income and literacy - to rank member states and also measure
quality of life in these countries.
But a nation widely singled out for its positive achievements in education,
health care and life expectancy has been left out of the index, complains
Ambassador Pedro Nunez Mosquera, Cuba's permanent representative to
the United Nations.
"My country has disappeared, as if it did not exist any longer,"
he told a closed-door meeting of the 130-member Group of 77 (G-77) developing
countries early this week.
The ambassador has lodged a protest over the omission of his country
from the HDI 2010 released late last year and plans to raise the issue
at the next meeting of the UNDP's executive
board later this month.
Addressing delegates at an ambassadorial meeting of the G-77, the largest
single economic grouping at the United Nations, the Cuban envoy said
the infant mortality rate in Cuba
is 5.2 per thousand and illiteracy has been eradicated.
But still, Cuba
does not exist in the eyes of those who compile the HDI, he told delegates
inquired about this omission, he said, he was told his country was left
out for "technical reasons".
Cuba was told there
are "problems" in measuring Cuba's gross national income in terms
of purchasing power parity (PPP) which is usually compiled by the World
"But because of the (49-year-old US)
blockade, the World Bank has excluded Cuba. I think this is something we
have to deplore," he said.
Asked for a response, William Orme of the
UNDP's Human Development Report Office told IPS that, "No
one wants Cuba
in the HDI more than we do."
"The index is our flagship product, and the goal is always for
maximum inclusion," he said.
Explaining the lapse, Orme said Cuba was omitted from the 2010 HDI
due to the absence of current internationally reported data for one
of the three required indicators: health, education and income (which
are used to calculate the composite HDI value, which in turn determines
a country's HDI ranking.)
The missing indicator for Cuba
was for income, he said, pointing out that there is no internationally
reported figure for Cuba's
Gross National Income adjusted for Purchasing Power Parity (GNI-PPP):
the figure used for all countries for the income component of the HDI,
and which is normally provided by the World Bank and/or the International
Monetary Fund (IMF).
Unofficial estimates of GNI-PPP, Orme said,
were considered unreliable by the statisticians and economists at the
Human Development Report Office, and the UN Statistical Commission has
advised against the use of such imputed - as opposed to officially reported
- figures as human development indicators for HDI calculation purposes.
Ambassador Mosquera said "hopefully,
the human development office which works under the aegis of UNDP but
is independent, should abide by (the relevant) resolution of the General
Assembly which states they should consult with member states."
was not consulted. Cuba
was placed on the index and then disappeared due to a technical error,"
In all, 169 countries and territories were included in the 2010 HDI.
But 25 UN member states and UN-recognised
territories, including Bhutan,
were not included, due to various data gaps. Of those, 13, including
had been included in the 2009 HDI.
life expectancy is 79 years, with an average of 17.7 for "expected
years of schooling", according to some of the figures published
in the 2010 HD report.
In comparison, the life expectancy in the United States (ranked fourth in the
HDI) is 79.6 and expected years of schooling 15.7.
is now and has long been one of the highest achievers in health and
education, the two non-income categories of human development, as discussed
in a newly published article by HDR research director Francisco Rodriguez
on the HDR website feature "Let's Talk HD."
The HDI is an integral part of the annual Human Development Report commissioned
by UNDP and which, according to UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, "relies
heavily on knowledge and insights from sister UN agencies, national
governments and hundreds of scholars from around the world."
In the 2010 report, which also commemorates the 20th anniversary of
the HDR, Clark says "UNDP can take appropriate pride in its
backing of this intellectually independent and innovative report for
the past two decades."
But she admits the HDRs "have never been
a UNDP product alone", pointing out that "we can and should
continue to be guided by the HDRs values and
findings for the next 20 years - and beyond."
The countries with "very high human development" in 2010 include
New Zealand, the
United States and Ireland.
In explaining it further, Orme told IPS the
HDR strives every year to include as many countries as possible in its
annual Index and "greatly regrets Cuba's
absence from the list this year, as UNDP has expressed to Cuba's UN representatives".
UNDP is not itself a source or generator of national or international
income data or other human development statistics, however.
The hope and expectation is that Cuba can once again be included in
the HDI once new statistical reporting on income from the Cuban government
is obtained by the relevant international institutions in the field,
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