Child Mortality Rate Still Rising, Minister Says

The health of Cambodian children remains among the poorest in Asia, despite the nation’s economic progress and increasing political stability, Minister of Health Hong Sun Huot said.

The heavy burden of disease and malnutrition combined with poor maternal health, limited availability of basic health services and low standards of household hygiene result in more than 55,000 deaths of children under five per year.

Child mortality rates currently stand at 95 out of 1,000 among children under five, according to a national heath survey conducted last year, the minister said. That number is an increase on 1998’s figure of 85 per 1,000 children.

Diarrhea, respiratory infections and preventable diseases such as Dengue fever, measles and tetanus are responsible for more than half of these deaths, he said.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, particularly of Vitamin A, iron and iodine, are also widespread and considered a public health problem, Hong Sun Huot said.

HIV/AIDS infection among children remains a very grave problem, the minister added, with a prevalence rate of 2.6 percent among newborns due to mother-child transmission.

The Japanese government has extended its budget for a government and UN Children’s Fund project to reduce child mortality to more than $2 million for this year.

The program aims to cooperate closely with the government, local authorities and communities to reduce cases of preventable disease through immunization, and stamp out vitamin def­i­ciencies, Hong Sun Huot added.


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