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Millennium Development Goals - 2005

Progress and Prospects in Europe and Central Asia

Conventional wisdom suggests that countries of Eastern and Central Europe and Central Asia (ECA) are well on target to meeting the global Millennium Development Goals approved at the United Nations in September 2000.

Given the fast growing HIV/AIDS epidemic, along with deteriorating standards of education, water and sanitation infrastructure, the story is in fact quite different.

This World Bank publication, released in September 2005, examines how countries in the region are living up to the challenge of meeting 7 key indicators of development.

Overview, Map and Methodology

The Central European and Baltic states that recently joined the European Union are most likely to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) while the prospects are mixed for Southeastern Europe and Turkey, middle-income and lower-income CIS countries.

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1. Poverty

Economic growth in recent years has meant that many ECA countries will reach their poverty MDG—but most of the poor in the ECA region live in middle-income countries. And the poorest countries in the South Caucasus and Central Asia still risk not achieving the goal.

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2. Education

Universal primary education appears achievable across most of the region, although in several countries, primarily the lower-income CIS countries, improvements in enrollments and completion rates need to accelerate.

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3. Gender Equality

Almost all ECA countries are expected to achieve the specific targets established for this MDG, but women’s equality with men is eroding, particularly in higher education and political participation.

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4. Child Mortality

Though the under-five mortality rate for the ECA region has fallen from 45 per 1,000 to 36, it is still well short of the rate needed to meet the MDG. Regional differences remain pronounced, with child mortality rates much higher in Central Asia than in Central and Eastern Europe.

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5. Maternal Health

Despite having lower maternal deaths than other regions, there are several countries in the ECA region where the maternal mortality MDG is unlikely to be achieved, including Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan.

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6. Diseases

The ECA region is experiencing the world’s fastest growing HIV/AIDS epidemic, with the number of people infected increasing from 30,000 in 1995 to 1.4 million in 2004. Russia and Ukraine account for 93 percent of these cases.

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7. Environment

While many countries in the ECA region appear on track to meet the target of access to safe drinking water, the picture is complicated by large urban-rural disparities in water access, quality, and reliability. Complementary ECA region MDG indicators should be developed to better reflect the features unique to the region.

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