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ADB: Asia Pacific Region Behind in Goals to Reduce Child Mortality, Improve Sanitation


The Asian Development Bank says Asia and the Pacific are behind in meeting certain parts the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals. A new report by the ADB and the U.N. Development Program says progress is slow in reducing child mortality, providing safe drinking water and improving sanitation facilities. Douglas Bakshian reports from Manila.

The newly released report by the Manila-based Asian Development Bank and the United Nations marks the halfway point of the U.N.'s 15-year campaign to reduce extreme poverty and improve the quality of life worldwide by 2015.

The report says the Asia Pacific region accounts for about 65 percent of the world's underweight children. It also says the region has 60 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births - almost double that of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Within the region, South Asia has significant problems with child mortality. India has a rate of 74 deaths per 1,000 live births, while in Pakistan, it is 99 deaths per 1,000.

The joint report says another key area in which the Asia-Pacific region is lagging behind is in basic sanitation facilities, ranging from household toilets to community latrines.

"In rural areas, only 30 percent of the population has access to basic sanitation facilities," said Haishan Fu of the U.N. Economic and Social Commission. "This is an improvement from 15 percent since 1990. Altogether, we have 1.5 billion people, which is 75 percent of the world's rural population without access."

ADB researchers found that access to clean water in rural area is increasing, but availability of clean drinking water is worsening in cities as growing urban populations are straining water systems.

Despite the shortcomings, the report says the Asia Pacific region remains dynamic and is forging ahead in many other areas of development. Access to primary education is increasing and the prevalence of tuberculosis is falling. The report say the region is on track to achieve the 2015 target of cutting extreme poverty in half, establish universal education and achieve gender parity.

However, several nations continue to show high poverty rates, including Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and India. The region still has 641 million people living on less than $1 a day.

The Millennium Development Goals were set by the United Nations in the year 2000, with the intention of reducing extreme poverty and making improvements in education, gender quality, fighting HIV/AIDS, child mortality and other areas.