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World Poverty Gains Reduced, Countries Unlikely To Achieve Most MDGs, U.N. Report Says

The global economic downturn has “reversed a 20-year decline in world poverty” and could “add up to 90 million to the ranks of the hungry in 2009, an increase of six percent over current totals,” according to a U.N. report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched in Geneva on Monday, Reuters reports (Evans, 7/6).

The report found that in terms of health-related MDGs, “mortality rates from tuberculosis were not dropping fast enough to meet the 2015 targets, developing countries were unlikely to reduce child mortality by two-thirds and almost negligible progress was made on decreasing maternal mortality levels in many areas. In addition, donor funding were declining for family planning,” SAPA/BusinessDay writes. However, “major progress” has been made in the fights against malaria and measles, and there is a continuing trend of fewer HIV infections, except in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where infection rates have been rising (7/6).

“The latest U.N. report to review progress” on the MDGs predicts that the “world will fail to achieve most of its targets to boost wealth, health and the quality of life in poor countries by 2015,” AP/Google.com reports (Engeler, 7/6).

“In 2009, an estimated 55 to 90 million more people will be living in extreme poverty than anticipated before the crisis,” said “The Millennium Development Goals Report” (pdf). It warned that a” recent decline in foreign aid – despite pledges from rich powers to increase fund flows – was likely to bring more disease and social disruption in the [global] South,” Reuters writes. In a speech to ECOSOC ahead of the G8 meeting, which is scheduled to begin on July 8 in Italy, Ban called on the G8 leaders to increase aid over the next year, noting that their previous pledges were not completely fulfilled. “I urge the G8 to set out, country by country, how donors will scale up aid to Africa over the next year,” Ban said (7/6).

The total annual aid flow to Africa remains at least $20 billion below what world leaders pledged at a summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005, according to Ban. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the global economic downturn has also led to a significant rise of chronic diseases related to poor diet, AP/Google.com writes. She said fresh fruit and vegetables and other healthy foods are dropped first if households have to cut their budgets. Chan said governments should prioritize chronic disease control and the improvement of mothers’ health (7/6).

Recently Ban published a related New York Times opinion piece calling for “international solidarity” to combat “multiple crises,” including the global economic situation, climate change and extreme poverty. In the article, Ban outlines three areas for action: mobilizing resources to monitor the impact of the economic crisis in developing countries in real time, maintaining global commitments “to help women and men move from vulnerability to opportunity,” and a reformation of international institutions. Ban writes that “without adequate regulation, a breakdown in one part of the system has profound repercussions elsewhere,” concluding, “[c]hallenges are linked. Our solutions must be, too” (Ban, 7/2).