In Asia-Pacific, mixed progress on MDGs

How far along is the Asia-Pacific region in achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals less than three years before the 2015 deadline?

The region is on track to meet targets related to poverty reduction, environment sustainability and gender equality in education but still lags behind goals on sanitation, hunger, and maternal and child health. This is according to the latest report by the Asian Development Bank, the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and the U.N. Development Program.

Only 22 percent of the region’s population lived below the poverty line in 2009, compared with 50 percent in 2000, the joint report says. It also notes that most countries in the region were able to reduce gender inequality in various levels of education, lower consumption of ozone-depleting substances and increase the number of people with access to clean drinking water.

Targets related to maternal and child health and sanitation, however, are largely off track. The region has also failed to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions, the report says. In addition, the percentage of people living below the poverty line ranges between zero in Malaysia and 55 percent in Nepal. Within countries, there is a wide gap in progress between rural and urban areas, the report adds.

Honing on the slow progress with regard to maternal and child health goals, the report recommends the following steps to boost regional efforts:

  • Expand access to primary health care.

  • Integrate child and maternal health into the broader health care system.

  • Address social determinants of health, like social norms.

  • Address the health needs of the urban poor.

  • Develop sustainable health financing strategies.

  • Improve health system governance.

  • Promote the use and production of generic medications.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.