Save The Children says there is improvement in child survival rates, but they fall short of what is needed to meet the Millennium Development Goal for child mortality. MGD number 4 has a goal of cutting child and maternal deaths by two thirds by the year 2015.
From the Inter Press Service, writer Marwaan Macan-Markar gives us country-by-country statistics.
A recent report by Save the Children, entitled ‘A Fair Chance At Life’, shows that Cambodia has seen a 32 percent drop in child mortality figures among the country’s "richest 20 percent", but only an 18 percent reduction in child mortality among the "poorest 20 percent".
Indonesia, the region’s giant where 16 percent of its 225 million people live below the poverty line, has recorded "equitable progress," noted the 37-page report. The poorest 20 percent has seen child mortality figures drop by 29 percent, while the richest 20 percent has witnessed a nine percent decline.
Military-ruled Burma, also known as Myanmar, lags behind all with the worst child mortality figures. It reportedly has 104 children under five years dying for every 1,000 live births. Cambodia, by contrast, has 82 deaths of children under five years of age per 1,000 live births. Laos, the third of this region’s poorest countries, has 75 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Child rights groups have hailed Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam as being well on course to meeting the 2015 targets. The region’s richest country, the city-state of Singapore, has been singled out in a study by ‘The Lancet’, a British medical journal, as leading all countries in the world in child mortality rates, having reduced it by 75 percent since 1990.
The inequity in child mortality rates in countries like Cambodia and the Philippines, which has 32 deaths per 1,000 live births, is "partly an urban-rural divide," said Phillips. "There is no conscious discrimination, but a natural tendency for nurses and doctors to work in cities."
At times, the distance to a health care is a day away, making it costly and time consuming for a family to take a newborn to treat illnesses that lead to child deaths, such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and sepsis.
"If you live more distant from a health centre, you will be reached later unlike those who live closer to health care workers," said Basil Rodriques, regional adviser for your child survival and development at the Asia office of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). "The MDGs saw the ‘low hanging fruits’ reached first."