Reduce child mortality

Where are we?

  Radha Das, an accredited social health activist, administers a Hepatitis B vaccine to an infant at a rural health center. Photo credit: Piyal Adhikary/UNDP Picture This

Aggregate progress for Asia and the Pacific towards reducing the under-five mortality has been slow. At the current rate of progress the region is likely to miss the target of reducing such mortality rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015.

Overall, the number of children who died before reaching their fifth birthday declined by half from 7 million in 1990. There are still more than 3 million children in the region who died before reaching their fifth birthday. Five least developed countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Lao PDR, Nepal and Timor-Leste) with the highest mortality rates in 1990 – more than 130 per 1,000 live births – have made striking progress. However, 24 out of 38 countries for which data are available are not on track for achieving this target.

The 2012 ESCAP/ADB/UNDP Asia-Pacific MDG Report found that economic growth, measured in the per capita Gross Domestic Product, was the largest factor accounting for disparities across the region for attainment in reducing infant mortality rate. The second and third largest factors were better access to sanitation and immunization.

As for disparities within countries, child mortality rate in rural area is higher than urban area. The Report shows, however, other factors such as children having been breastfed for at least six months, education of mother, and household wealth to have stronger effect for closing disparities than the location of the household.

The Report concludes that improving the status of women by investing in education of girls and women and providing comprehensive breastfeeding programmes is effective to improve health standards of women as well as children.

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