After sub-Saharan Africa, the Pacific islands have made the least progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), meant to cut poverty and hunger in half and fight a host of other global ills, according to new statistics released by the United Nations today.
The lack of progress in the Oceania region, which has about 8 million inhabitants, is shown in a new chart prepared by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) for the latest report by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration adopted by world leaders in 2000.
The chart points to a decline in measles immunization, an increase in the spread of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, further deforestation and low access to drinking water and sanitation in rural areas.
The islands have also shown to be lagging behind in reducing hunger, death rates during pregnancy, youth unemployment, girls' enrolment in secondary schools and women's representation in parliaments.
The release of statistics comes less than two months ahead of a UN conference on small islands States in Mauritius to review progress on an action plan to help those countries meet economic and social developmental goals.