The United Nations Development Programme says Fiji's lower ranking in its Human Development Report this year is the result of a drop in life expectancy and stagnation in school enrolment.
Fiji has dropped 11 places from 83 to 94, well behind Tonga at 54 and Samoa at 74.
This led the chief executive in the Prime Minister's Office, Jioji Kotobalavu, to describe the report as a joke after questioning how Fiji could be behind its two Pacific neighbours.
But the UNDP's resident representative in Fiji, Richard Dictus, says the reason for Fiji's lower ranking is partly due to lower life expectancy because of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes as well as the impact of HIV/AIDS.
Mr Dictus has urged Fiji not to focus too much on its ranking but to work on human development.
He says concern should be directed towards achieving the Mellennium Development Goals on poverty, education, health, peace, stability, good governance and the quality of service delivery.
Mr Dictus says governments need to prioritise human development and reduce inequalities in human capabilities and income.