MANILA, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) must ramp up efforts to improve the quality of life across the region to build a resilient community and yield a faster recovery, said an Asian Development Bank (ADB) report on Thursday.
The region's path to progress must increasingly focus on achieving success in reading, math, and science, better nutrition, and access to quality healthcare, noted the report of the Manila-based bank.
"As the region emerges from the pandemic, fortifying health systems, raising the quality of education, and improving nutrition will equip our young workers physically, mentally, and emotionally and improve their productivity," ADB Director General for Southeast Asia Winfried Wicklein said.
"The attainment of upward income convergence, a rapid reduction in extreme poverty rates, and improvement in financial inclusion and internet penetration rates will help the region overcome reversals in development gains caused by the pandemic," he added.
The report also urged ASEAN countries to invest in digital skills, infrastructure, and finance to reduce the cost of business and build a more competitive region.
The pandemic lockdowns implemented in these ASEAN countries led to a 3.2 percent contraction in gross domestic product in the region in 2020, while the growth improved to 3.5 percent in 2021 and rose further to 5.6 percent in 2022, according to the report.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.