The Caribbean and Latin America are not on track to meet globally agreed targets for slashing poverty, as about one in four people in the region make just over one US dollar a day, a United Nations report has found.
The annual progress report tracking the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set a decade ago also said the region has made "uneven" progress in education, health and environmental protection.
While the world seems on course to more than halving the numbers of people living in extreme poverty by 2015 among the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the report suggested the region was nowhere near reaching this target for its people.
"According to the latest available data, the proportion of people living on less than US$1.25 a day in the Caribbean only decreased from 29 per cent to 26 per cent between 1990 and 2005," the UN report said.
Eleven years after being set a target of reducing the global poverty rate to 23 per cent, the world's nations are on course to reducing overall poverty to below 15 per cent, despite setbacks from the recent economic, food and energy crises, the report said.
While the region met the MDG target of gender parity in education and surpassed the rest of the developing world in making "major strides" in gender equality, it is expected to fall short of the goal of achieving universal primary education by 2015, the report said.
Primary school enrolment barely increased from 93 per cent to 95 per cent between 1999 and 2009, according to the report.
The numbers of girls enrolled in secondary school, college and university compared to boys are the highest of all developing regions, it said.
Women participate in paid work nearly as much as men, it added, and the proportion of women in non-agricultural work was 43 per cent in 2009, the second highest among all developing regions.
On health, the Caribbean has the second highest rate of new HIV infections among all developing regions, even as the world saw a decline in overall infections from the virus that leads to AIDS.
But the report found that the global boost in treatment for people living with HIV was also shared in the Caribbean, as the proportion of Caribbean people receiving antiretroviral therapy jumped from five per cent to 38 per cent in five years between 2004 and 2009.
The number of women receiving antiretroviral drugs to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission grew from one in five to more than half, the UN report said.
The report found that maternal deaths in the Caribbean were still high, with 170 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2008, and skilled medical personnel attended only 69 per cent of birth deliveries in 2009.
While Latin America and the Caribbean succeeded in reaching another MDG -- halving the proportion of the population without access to safe drinking water -- the region is far from meeting another MDG target in sanitation with a "daunting" gap between rural and urban areas.
The report found that a city dweller was almost twice as likely to use a toilet or latrine as a rural villager in 2008.
Overall, the region suffered huge losses in environmental sustainability, as South America continues to show the largest net losses of forests among all regions of the world, at just under four million hectares per year in the first decade of the century, the report said.
Deforestation continued in the region while it slowed at the global level, it added.
First agreed at the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000, the eight MDGs set worldwide targets for slashing extreme poverty and hunger, improving health and education, empowering women and ensuring environmental sustainability by 2015.
World leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Goals at the UN MDG Summit last September and called for more collaboration and expansion of successful programmes. A Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health was launched to get over $40 billion in commitments.
Last Thursday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon unveiled the global outlook on the MDGs, saying there was reason to celebrate "major successes" ever since world leaders set targets to slash extreme poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disease in a 15-year period starting from 2000.
"Already the MDGs have helped lift millions of people out of poverty, save countless children's lives and ensure that they attend school," Ban said.