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Saturday, June 7, 2008

RP Ranks First in Child Health Care

The Philippines is ranked first among 55 developing countries in terms of providing basic health care to children, according to the United States-based organization Save the Children.

In its annual State of the World’s Mothers report, the organization placed the Philippines on top of its basic health care report card after seeing good progress in the country’s efforts to improve health care for children.

However, while the overall ranking of the country was high, Save the Children noted a wide disparity between rich and poor children as recipients of health care.

Save the Children defines basic health care as a package of lifesaving interventions that includes prenatal care, skilled care at childbirth, immunizations and treatment for diarrhea and pneumonia.

“The Philippines is making good progress in improving health care for children and has achieved a 48 percent reduction in its under-5 death rate since 1990,” the report said.

In terms of newborn mortality rates, the Philippines has one of the lowest in the developing world with an average of 15 out of 1,000 live births.

“Sixty percent of births in the Philippines are assisted by trained personnel, but the disparity between rich and poor is wide, with 92 percent of births among the wealthiest assisted by skilled health professionals, compared to 25 percent among the poorest,” the report stated.

It noted that nearly half or 46 percent of the poorest children under 5 in the Philippines do not get health care when they need it and that a poor child is 3.2 times more likely than a rich child to die before reaching age 5.

“The Philippines could save many more children’s lives by targeting health care to the poor,” according to Save the Children.
The report said that if all children survived at the same rate as the wealthiest children, 35 percent of the Philippines’ under-5 deaths could be averted.
“That means 26,000 Philippine children would be saved each year,” the organization said.
The Philippines was followed by Peru, South Africa and Indonesia/ Turkmenistan (tied).
Ethiopia was at the bottom of the list with 84 percent of its children having these basic health needs unmet. Also at the bottom were Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Yemen, Chad and Somalia.
The report said that more than 200 million under age 5 do not get basic health care when they need it.
The 55 countries included in the report card account for nearly 60 percent of the world’s under-5 population and 83 percent of all child deaths worldwide.
Save the Children also ranked 146 countries for how good they are for mothers and children. Sweden, Norway, Iceland, New Zealand and Denmark topped the list. Niger was last. The United States placed 27th, one spot below last year’s ranking. - With AP

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