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U.N. Report Shows Significant Progress Toward Reaching MDGs, But Mixed Results In Some Areas

Significant progress is being made toward reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline, but the poorest countries are not progressing as quickly and more must be done to improve health and development outcomes in those nations, according to this year’s MDG report (.pdf), VOA News reports. “Despite the global economic downturn and the food and energy crises, we are on track to meet the MDG targets for poverty-reduction,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at the launch of the report on Thursday in Geneva (Schlein, 7/7).

But the report “showed mixed results on the first target of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger,” Agence France-Presse reports. “The proportion of people in the developing world who went hungry in 2005-2007 remained stable at 16 percent, despite significant reductions in extreme poverty,” the report states. “Based on this trend, and in light of the economic crisis and rising food prices, it will be difficult to meet the hunger-reduction target in many regions of the developing world.” In the report, the U.N. highlights its concern that hunger was not dropping dramatically even though major poverty reduction goals were being achieved. “The disconnect between poverty reduction and the persistence of hunger has brought renewed attention to the mechanisms governing access to food in the developing world,” the report says (7/7).

The report calls for efforts “to be intensified especially among the most vulnerable members of the global population who continue to be marginalized as a result of sex, age, ethnicity or disability,” the U.N. News Centre writes. The report notes “that as a result of concerted efforts to achieve the MDGs,” the number of new HIV infections has declined steadily since 1997, the number of people on antiretroviral therapy increased 13-fold between 2004 and 2009, and nearly two billion people gained access to improved drinking water between 1990 and 2008, the news service states.

“Progress has, however, been uneven, the report notes, highlighting the large gaps between and within countries. The poorest children made the slowest progress in terms of improved nutrition and survival, and nearly a quarter of children in the developing world were underweight in 2009, with the poorest children most affected,” according to the U.N. News Centre. “Achieving all the MDGs will require extra effort. Even where we have seen rapid growth, as in East Asia and other parts of the developing world, progress is not universal, nor are the benefits evenly shared,” Ban said (7/7).

IRIN notes some additional key findings in the U.N. report (7/7).