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World Bank Report Shows Some MDG Progress, Country-Level Advancement ‘Uneven’

The world is on track to meet the poverty reduction target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but sub-Saharan Africa still lags behind, according to the World Bank’s World Development Indicators 2010 report, released Tuesday, VOA News reports (Hennessey, 4/20).

The report, which focuses on the MDGs, “shows that considerable progress has been made in reaching these challenging goals,” a World Bank press release writes. “Despite the economic and financial crisis that has swept over the globe, the target to reduce by half the proportion of people living in extreme poverty is still within reach in several developing regions. Home to the most people living on less than $1.25 a day, Asia has accounted for much of this remarkable achievement. Sub-Saharan Africa meanwhile remains off track to meet the income poverty goal,” according to the release.

The report also shows that at the country level, progress has been “uneven.” According to the release, “49 of 87 countries with data are on track to achieve the poverty target. Some 41 percent of the people in low- and middle-income countries live in countries that are unlikely to achieve the target. And 12 percent live in the 60 countries for which there are insufficient data to assess progress.”

The release also notes progress on the other MDGs. For child health targets, the report found that increases in immunization rates, improved treatment of diarrheal diseases and better malaria prevention “have all contributed to falling mortality rates for children under age five. In developing countries, the child mortality rate declined from 101 per 1,000 in 1990 to 73 in 2008.”

The release references “[n]ew estimates of maternal mortality, which became available after the WDI went to press [that] found substantial decreases in maternal deaths for the first time since setting the fifth MDG target of a 75 percent reduction in the mortality ratio from levels prevailing in 1990.” Official U.N. estimates due out later this year are expected to confirm that trend, according to the release. The press release also includes key findings on disease targets (4/20).

Eric Swanson, World Development Indicators program manager, said, “Progress [towards MDGs] started very slowly in the first part of the new millennium and many of the targets that were collected were very ambitious.” He continued, “But we have seen an acceleration, more countries on track to reach the targets individually and globally the averages are starting to look better,” VOA News writes (4/20).  

The World Bank also announced Tuesday that it will provide free and open access to data from its report, according to a second World Bank press release. In addition to English, the data will be available in Arabic, French and Spanish.

Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, said, “I believe it’s important to make the data and knowledge of the World Bank available to everyone.” According to Zoellick, “Statistics tell the story of people in developing and emerging countries and can play an important part in helping to overcome poverty. They are now easily accessible on the Web for all users, and can be used to create new apps for development.”

The open data also provides access to the “Global Development Finance, Africa Development Indicators, Global Economic Monitor, and indicators from the Doing Business Report” (4/20).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.