A public health care system that is devastated due to lack of funding is causing the infant mortality rate in parts of Asia to rise rapidly according
to a UNICEF report. The decline in state hospitals and an increased reliance of private health care systems is the primary cause according to the
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Child mortality rates are spiraling in parts of Asia because of financially crippled public health care systems, a U.N. report
said on Friday.
An increasing reliance on privatized health care and the stripping back of state hospitals was endangering the health of thousands of mothers and
children, a senior United Nations Children's Fund official said.
"An aggressive increase in privatization and a system where the user has to fully pay for health care means that the poor tend to drop out of the
picture," Dr Steve Atwood, UNICEF'S Regional Adviser for Health and Nutrition, told Reuters.
"People tend to view health as an income-generating activity that doesn't require government funding. This unfortunately divides people into those who
can pay for the service and those who can't," he said.
Atwood pointed to the dramatic increase in child deaths in Cambodia since the country began a privatization drive.
UNICEF estimates that one in seven children die in Cambodia before they reach the age of five and has listed the country among the top 10 that have
failed to make a dent in child mortality.
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The resulting change often forces the user to pay for the health care, something few can afford. The statistics are grim. In countries like Cambodia,
UNICEF has estimated that one in seven children die before the age of 5. Other countries that made the dubious top 10 list include Botswana, Zimbabwe,
Swaziland, Kenya, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Iraq, and Uzbekistan. The news was not all bad, Malaysia, was cited as decreasing their child
mortality rate by over 8 percent in the last decade.