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Asia-Pacific must boost efforts to turn growth into anti-poverty gains: UN report

09-21-2010 08:58 BJT Special Report:Premier Wen Attends 2 UN Conferences |

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Asia-Pacific countries must enhance efforts to translate robust economic growth into progress toward the targets of slashing poverty and hunger, a new United Nations-backed report said here on Monday.

The number of people in the region living on less than 1.25 U.S. dollars a day has dropped from 1.5 billion in 1990 to just under 950 million in 2005, helping to drive global success in cutting poverty, according to Paths to 2015 -- MDG priorities in Asia and the Pacific, jointly produced by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the UN Development Program (UNDP) and the Asian Development Bank.

The report's launch came as nearly 140 heads of state and government gather at the UN Headquarters in New York for a three- day meeting to identify ways to accelerate progress toward realizing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight universally-agreed anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline.

Asia and the Pacific has made strides in ensuring that all children have access to primary school and reducing HIV prevalence, among other successes, the new publication notes.

However, it is still home to two-thirds of the world's poor and hungry, with one in six people malnourished. It has also been slow to reduce child mortality and to improve maternal health.

If the region stays on its current development track, by 2015, it will have nearly 35 million more people living in extreme income poverty; almost 900,000 additional malnourished children, 1. 7 million births not attended by skilled professionals, and 70 million more people lacking access to improved sanitation.

ESCAP Executive Secretary-general Noeleen Heyzer stressed that poverty reduction and the achievement of the MDGs must take center stage in Asia-Pacific nations' development strategies, especially in the wake of the financial crisis.

"Lifting people out of poverty is an essential step in building domestic demand in Asia and sustaining global economic growth," she said.

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