UNICEF: Children 'left out' of Asia's boom (Updated)
A recent UNICEF report states that.".. more than 40 per cent of the world's children who died before their fifth birthday in 2006, were from the Asia Pacific region". Such conclusion has led it to warn that "Asia's booming economies is leaving many mothers and children behind and putting children's lives at risk." China and India are the ones most affected. Thus, they are suggested to take action.
Children 'left out' of Asia's boom
The widening gap between rich and poor in Asia's booming economies is leaving many mothers and children behind and putting children's lives at risk, according to a new UN report. The UN's report on the state of Asia's Pacific's children, released on Tuesday, highlighted growing concerns that children in India and China continue to suffer despite their countries' economic gains. "The divide between rich and poor is rising at a troubling rate within sub-regions of Asia Pacific, leaving vast numbers of mothers and children at risk," the report from Unicef, the UN children's agency, said. Unicef said that more than 40 per cent of the world's children who died before their fifth birthday in 2006, were from the Asia Pacific region. The agency said that the main killers were pneumonia, diarrhoea and malnutrition but that "the vast inequalities in income, geography, gender and ethnicity are essentially what stand in the way of children surviving and thriving".
The report said South Asia was lagging behind on public spending on health care, with only 1.1 per cent of gross domestic product allocated to the sector. At least 2.1 million children under the age of five died in India in 2006. The report called on the country, where last year economic growth was about nine per cent, to improve its health care, nutrition, education, gender equality and child protection policies. The report also said that a boom in private sector health care for the region's expanding middle classes was affecting the public sector by tempting qualified staff to better paying jobs in private clinics or overseas. Anupama Rao Singh, Unicef's regional director for East Asia and the Pacific, told Al Jazeera that she saw two main reasons for the low public expenditure on public healthcare in Asia - a growing move towards the privatisation of healthcare and the decetralisation of government authority. "In the recent past here has been a real effort at privatising many of the basic social services, as a result of which government's invest less and expect families and communities to pay the additional costs," she said. "But the pace of economic growth in Asia is one of the fastest in the world so there are new revenues and resources available within the countries which can be put to public uses ... and the international community still has a role to play especially in the least developed countries."
According to global population studies, India will likely surpass China to be the world's most populous country within 20 years. With half of the world's children living in the Asia Pacific, the report said that extending health services to the poorest people was key to achieving the 2015 global goal of reducing under-five mortality by two-thirds of 1990 levels. "However the region's robust economic growth, the fastest in the world since 1990, has lifted millions out of poverty," Unicef said in a separate statement. Within the region, Southeast Asia made the largest strides in combating child deaths, with mortality for under-fives now half what it was in 1990. In China, Unicef reported that child mortality had dropped between 1970 and 1990, but said the decrease had since slowed and that the country needed to take big strides to regain early progress. "China's overall disease profile now resembles that of an industrialised country, but inequities in access to quality health care and huge disparities in health outcomes remain prevalent and entrenched," the report said. However, overall the mortality rate for children under five years of age had dropped 34 per cent in Asia pacific since 1990. Out of every 1,000 births in the region in 2006, at least 59 infants died before their fifth birthday. The 2015 target is 30 deaths per 1,000 births.
The report says there were 2.5 million child deaths in India and China, the two fastest-growing major economies in the world, accounting for nearly a third of all global child deaths. In India the figure was 2.1 million, whereas in China it was 415,000. Unicef called for Beijing to step up its efforts, but made plain that India has much to do despite four years of high economic growth