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NEWS FROM THE UNITED NATIONS
With less than 1,000 days before the end of the current Millennium Development Goals (MDG), the world is entering what UN Special Envoy for Education Gordon Brown describes as the "Final Sprint" to achieve them.
The overarching goal of reducing absolute poverty by half is within reach for the world as a whole:
—In all but two regions, primary school enrollment is at least 90%.
—The gender parity index in primary education is 95% or higher in six of the 10 regions, including the most populous ones;
—Deaths from measeles fell from over 750,000 in 2000 to less than 250,000 in 2006, and about 80% of children in developing countries now receive a measles vaccine;
—The number of deaths from AIDS fell from 2.2 million in 2005 to 2.0 million in 2007, and the number of people newly infected declined from 3.0 million in 2001 to 2.7 million in 2007;
—Malaria prevention is expanding, with widespread increases in insecticide-treated net use among children under five in sub-Saharan Africa: in 16 out of 20 countries, use has at least tripled since around 2000.
—The incidence of tuberculosis is expected to be halted and begin to decline before the target date of 2015;
—Some 1.6 billion people have gained access to safe drinking water since 1990;
—The use of ozone-depleting substances has been almost eliminated and this has contributed to the effort to reduce global warming;
—The share of developing countries' export earnings devoted to servicing external debt fell from 12.5% in 2000 to 6.6% in 2006, allowing them to allocate more resources to reducing poverty;
—The private sector has increased the availability of some critical essential drugs and rapidly spread mobile phone technology throughout the developing world.