Nepal: world’s best child welfare story

Found this encouraging story: copied it from yahoo to paste here! :)

Despite a devastating 10-year civil war, Nepal has scripted the best child welfare story in the world, slashing child mortality by over 65 percent and magically improving child healthcare.

‘Nepal is one of the seven countries in the world that has been successful in cutting child mortality by two-thirds,’ said Gillian Mellsop, Unicef’s Nepal representative, releasing the report ‘State of the world’s children’ in Kathmandu Thursday.

‘What is commendable for Nepal is that we were able to make this progress despite the conflict the country has experienced in the last decade.’

In 2001 in Nepal – one of the world’s poorest countries where remote villages lack healthcare, safe drinking water, electricity and sanitation – 91 children under the age of five died in every 1,000 children, according to the health ministry.

Last year, the number was slashed to 61 per thousand, making Nepal one of the four top success stories in the world, the other three being Indonesia, Egypt and south Asian neighbour Bangladesh.

Worldwide, more than 27,000 children under five die every day, most of them from preventable causes.

Last year, more than 80 percent of the deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia.

The reduction in the child mortality percentage in Nepal was better than in its bigger neighbours China and India. China reported a 47 percent decline in its child mortality rate and India reported 34 percent.

‘We are world leaders in this area,’ said Yasho Vardhan Pradhan, director of child health division at the health ministry.

‘In Nepal, 5,000 children used to die of measles every year. But after our anti-measles campaign, there are only sporadic cases.

‘Even in 2004-05, when there were shutdowns and devastation every day, we continued with our campaign, injecting 9.5 million children.’

Nepal’s other magic successes are axing iron deficiency by 77 percent and bringing 83 percent of Nepal’s 4.5 million under-five population under other immunisation programmes.

Pradhan attributes the success to the state’s willingness to embrace any new innovation and its faith in the communities that participate vigorously in childcare programmes.

‘Over 48,000 women work as volunteers in their own communities,’ he said. ‘They are the backbone of our programmes.’

While pneumonia and diarrhoea cause the maximum child deaths, malnutrition and lack of sanitation contribute indirectly.

‘Malnutrition and sanitation still remain major challenges,’ warned Ian Pett, child survival and development advisor at Unicef’s regional office in south Asia.

Despite the success with under-fives, Nepal still has one of the worst neo-natal and maternal mortality rates.

Pradhan says the problem needs a multi-pronged approach.

‘We need better literacy rates, food security, personal hygiene and sanitation,’ he said. ‘We need an improvement in socio-economic conditions.’

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