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Report: China Close to Millennium Development Goals
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Many countries in the Asian and Pacific region are still falling behind the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) proposed by the United Nations, although the region as a whole is on track to achieve most of the MDGs, a joint report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and UN institutions said on Monday.

"The absolute size of social and economic deprivation remains enormous," said the report Millennium Development Goals: Progress in Asia and the Pacific 2006, referring to the slow progress and unsatisfactory performance on some of the social welfare targets in many individual countries.

Two thirds of Asians or a total of 1.5 billion people are still without access to basic sanitation, the new report said, adding that the region has nearly three times as many underweight children and people living on less than one U.S. dollar a day as sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America combined.

In addition, infant mortality and HIV prevalence are also problematic in the region, according to the report.

The countries falling most behind the MDGs as identified by the report are Bangladesh, Indonesia, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines.

These countries are causing the greatest concern from the ADB and the UN because they score negatively on their current level of MDG performance, the report said.

On the other end of four performance categories grouped by the report, Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Kyrgyz, Malaysia, Palau, Thailand, and Vietnam are identified as making good progress and with a latest status better than average for the region.

China is on track to achieve, or has already achieved, most targets on health and poverty. The country enjoys one of the lowest child and maternal death rates, some of the lowest HIV, malaria, and TB prevalence, and has achieved gender parity in primary and secondary education, the report said.

The report said in the conclusion that with developing countries' commitment to the sustainable growth required to achieve the MDGs, developed countries must also provide more aid, fair trade opportunity and a more equitable share of global prosperity for the poor people.

The 2006 report updates the detailed analysis provided in the regional report, "A Future within Reach 2005," released in September last year at the Millennium Summit in New York. It is produced through a regional partnership between ADB, United Nations Development Program, and UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

The eight MDGs, which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015, form a blueprint agreed to by all the international society.

(Xinhua News Agency October 17, 2006)

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