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Child death rates rise in 6 African nations

Report checks progress made by UN program

The Millennium Development Goals, adopted by 189 world leaders in 2000, include cutting extreme poverty by half, ensuring primary school education, and reducing child deaths. The Millennium Development Goals, adopted by 189 world leaders in 2000, include cutting extreme poverty by half, ensuring primary school education, and reducing child deaths. (Sunday Alamba via Associated Press)
By Jason Straziuso
Associated Press / June 23, 2010

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NAIROBI — Ten African countries have halved their poverty rates over the past two decades, but child mortality rates have increased in six sub-Saharan nations, a report on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals released yesterday found.

The countries that halved their poverty rates since 1990 include relatively populous countries such as Ethiopia and Egypt and postconflict countries such as Angola. However, in Nigeria and Zimbabwe, the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty has risen.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world registering an increase in the under age 5 mortality rate, which has risen in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Kenya, and Zambia. Thirty-four of the world’s 36 countries with child mortality rates above 100 per 1,000 births are in sub-Saharan Africa. The others are Afghanistan and Myanmar.

The Millennium Development Goals Report Card, which was sponsored in part by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was released yesterday to coincide with meetings of G-8 and G-20 countries in Canada beginning Friday. The report said the key message concerning the goals is that progress is possible.

The conditions that help a country make progress include open trade policies, an openness to technology, consistent leadership committed to reducing poverty, and overhauls aimed at making the public sector accountable, the report said.

The Millennium Development Goals, adopted by 189 world leaders in 2000, include cutting extreme poverty by half, ensuring universal primary school education for all children, reducing child and maternal deaths, halting and reversing the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and cutting in half the proportion of people without access to safe water and basic sanitation, all by 2015.

Yesterday’s report said that progress was mixed on the goal of halving the number of people who suffer from hunger. Just over half of the countries have made progress in reducing undernourishment. Progress has varied greatly. In Ghana, hunger levels were cut 75 percent between 1990 and 2004, but in the Democratic Republic of Congo, hunger levels more than doubled to 76 percent during that period.

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