More than one billion people worldwide have been extricated from poverty since countries all over the world committed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 15 years ago, according to the United Nations (UN).
In a report, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there have been “profound achievements” in reaching MDG goals and lessons learned in the past 15 years can be harnessed to usher these goals into a new era.
According to the report, extreme poverty declined “significantly” in the last two decades.
In 1990, some 47 percent of the population in the developing world lived on less than $1.25 a day. In 2015, that percentage dropped to just 14 percent.
The number of people living in extreme poverty globally also dropped from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015.
There is also an increase in the population of the middle class, or those living on more than $4 a day—from 18 percent in 1991 to half of the workforce in developing regions in 2015.
On the other hand, the report said that the proportion of undernourished people in the developing regions was halved since 1990—from 23.3 percent in the 1990-1992 period to 12.9 percent in 2014-2016.
Ban said more girls were able to attend school “than ever before.”
But though there are “remarkable gains,” Ban said inequalities persist and progress has been uneven.
The UN report said the poorest countries can make dramatic and unprecedented progress” through “targeted interventions, sound strategies, adequate resources and political will.”
There are eight MDG goals – eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and pushing global partnership for development.
The report said mortality rate in children aged five and below has declined by more than half—from 90 to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births between 1990 and 2015.
Measles vaccination worldwide helped prevent 15.6 million deaths between 2000 and 2013, with about 84 percent of children worldwide receiving at least one dose of measles vaccine in 2013, an increase from 73 percent in 2000.
Maternal mortality rates also went down by 45 percent worldwide since 1990.
In Southern Asia, maternal mortality rate declined by 64 percent for the 1990-2013 period while it dropped by 49 percent during the same period in the sub-Saharan Africa.
Achieving primary education
In 2000, only 83 percent of children in the developing regions are in primary school. Fifteen years after, this number increased to 91 percent.
The number of out-of-school children also dropped from 100 million in 2000 to 57 million in 2015.
The report said Sub-Saharan Africa had the best record of improvement in primary education of any region since the MDGs were established.
Globally, the literacy rate among youth aged 15 to 24 also increased to 91 percent from just 83 percent.
“Many more girls are now in school compared to 15 years ago. The developing regions as a whole have achieved the target to eliminate gender disparity in primary, secondary and tertiary education,” the report said.
In Southern Asia, more girls—103 to 100—are now enrolled in primary school than boys. This was a huge jump from the figures in 1990 wherein only 74 girls were enrolled for every 100 boys.
Also, 41 percent women working outside the agricultural sector, compared to just 35 percent in 2000.
Combatting HIV/AIDs and other diseases
There were 3.5 million cases of HIV infections in 2000, but there was a 40 percent drop in 2013 to just 2.1 million cases through the MDG.
Some 13.6 million living with HIV by June 2014 have also been receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) globally, an “immense” increase from just 300,000 in 2003.
ART was able to avert 7.6 million deaths from AIDS between 1995 to 2013.
On the other hand, over 6.2 million deaths caused by malaria have been averted between 2000 and 2015, primarily children under five years old in sub-Saharan Africa.
Globally, incidences of malaria fell by 37 percent and the mortality rate by 58 percent.
However, despite these many successes, the UN said “the poorest and most vulnerable people are being left behind.”
Some of the issues continue such as gender inequality, climate change and environmental degradation, conflicts, and big gaps between rural and urban areas.
“The successes of the MDG agenda prove that global action works. It is the only path to ensure that the new development agenda leaves no one behind,” the report said.