Life expectancy in Liberia has climbed from 47 to 60 years, Information Minister Lewis Brown has disclosed in Monrovia . "Though Liberians are not living as long as they wish to, but they are not likely to die as early as they used to years ago," . Brown told the weekly Thursday press briefing in the Charles Gbeyon Conference Hall at the Ministry of Information . Minister Brown also said the percentage of people living within five kilometers of a health center today increased from 41 percent to 71 percent, while malaria incidence today is reduced from 66 percent to 28 percent. He further revealed that Liberia is now ranked amongst the best performers on the continent for reducing its under-five mortality from 194 to 74, indicating an improvement in its Millennium Development Goal target. The Information boss also disclosed that the maternal mortality per 100,000 live births has dropped from 994 to 770, while the HIV incidence amongst pregnant women has also declined from 5.6 to 2.6 percent. He also told reporters that the percent of deliveries by a skilled birth attendant to date has increased from 14 to 41 percent. On the issue of infrastructure development, Minister Brown said more than 20,000 Liberians in and around Monrovia are connected to an electric grid, while Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Maryland counties are connected to cheap and affordable electric power. According to Minister Brown, access to safe drinking water is up to 60 percent, while there is increase in the construction of borehole wells across the country. He Liberia is ranked by the World Bank as one of the world's three performers in fighting poverty, as the percentage of Liberians living below the national poverty line has dropped to less than 50 percent, from 76.6 percent in 2006; recording an annual 3 percent point reduction in poverty. According to Minister Brown, the road network around the capital is improving; citing the Central Monrovia roads, Caldwell to Louisiana , Jamaica Road, A.B. Tolbert Road , Duport Road Soul Clinic and the Sinkor Streets. Others in rural parts of the country are the Kolahun to Vahun Road , Police Academy to SKD Boulevard and Red Light to Gbarnga, Bong County. Minister Brown said over 80 percent of the population, up from 35 percent, has access to education, while the literacy rate between 15 and 24 years is up from 45 percent to 72.4 percent. He said more than 60,000 had access to micro-finance loans in 2013 up from 300 persons years back, while five community colleges are in varying stages of operations; with three functional teachers' training institutes up from zero. According to Minister Brown, mobile telephony users grew from 586,716 to nearly 2 million in 2013, with reformed systems, continuous audits, and towering watchdog and integrity groups put into place to heightened public awareness. The information boss said with proper dredging and a new marginal wharf, the Freeport of Monrovia and other ports are being readied for 24-hour operations. First electric power will flow from Mount Coffee in December of 2015, and power projects such as those of Yandalahun serving local communities, hospitals and rice mills, are being studied for deployments along our rivers, Brown said.
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