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One third of children under five eat poorly

Update: November, 27/2012 - 10:00

HA NOI (VNS)— One-third of Vietnamese children under the age of five were malnourished and one-third of women and children suffered from anaemia. Most of them lived in rural areas.

This was revealed in Ha Noi yesterday at a conference to assess the nation's progress towards achieving the nation's Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Health experts at the meeting said Viet Nam must invest much more to achieve health-related goals in the next three years.

Five of all the eight goals, launched globally by the United Nations, are related to health. They are: eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, reducing child and maternal mortality, combating HIV/AIDS and malaria – and ensuring environmental sustain-ability.

Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Viet Tien said to meet the deadline, a key measure would be to reduce inequalities among regions and population groups.

He said that in some places, the rate of child and maternal mortality and the numbers of those with HIV/AIDS remained high. Environmental hygiene was still a big problem, particularly among ethnic minorities and in mountain and coastal areas.

Progress lags

"The progress toward achieving the other targets in ethnic groups also lags behind the national averages, and the disparities between rich and poor households and communities continue to widen," said Tien.

Pratibha Mehta, United Nations Resident Co-ordinator for Viet Nam, said Viet Nam was one of a handful of countries to have made significant progress towards achieving the development goals.

In particular, it had made significant achievements in poverty reduction. The poverty rate had been lowered from 58.1 per cent in 1993 to 14.5 per cent in 2008. She added that progress in reducing malnutrition had also been significant, falling from 41 per cent to 11.7 per cent in 2011.

Besides, the child mortality rate for ethnic people had increased between 2006 and 2011 and were now 3.5 times higher than for the Kinh majority.

In the 62 poorest districts in the country, the rate of maternal mortality was five times higher than the national average.

Mehta said universal access to reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health services should focus in particular on poor, ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups.

"With only three years left until they expire, the UN will continue supporting the Government of Viet Nam in its efforts to achieve all the goals. We will also support the Government to identify the health priorities for a new development agenda beyond 2015," she said. — VNS

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